Change Makers

Tembo aims to educate 2 million children dwelling in slums by 2020

‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ is a great quote from Maimonides, the ancient philosopher and astronomer. Inspired by the same philosophy, Phil Michaels started Tembo with a mission to educate children belonging to slum through mobile phones, which is the most commonly communication device.

Phil states, “We educate people at a very early age so they learn how to solve their own problems resulting in a long-term solution. We created Tembo to be the most sustainable and scalable way to solve the world’s most pressing issues.”

Teaching innovately


Tembo educates children between 0-6 years of age dwelling in slums through mobile phone. The organisation uses high-quality curriculum to train and certify home educators who are members of the urban slum community. They teach parents through SMS text messages. This will enable parents to teach the children inside their home itself.

The learning process is assessed through a quiz, that too through SMS text messages. And guess what? For educating their children and answering the quiz correctly, the parent is rewarded with free airtime on their phone.

In Phil’s words, “We created Tembo because we believe that the current method of solving the world’s problems is antiquated. We expedite the economic development of the country by not only educating millions of children, but also by creating job opportunities, generating revenue for telecoms, and opening doors to foreign investors.”

He goes on, “Many organizations, NGOs, and non-profits continue to provide resources and supplies for those that need it most. Although this is an admirable line of work and has helped millions of people, we believe that social entrepreneurship is a more sustainable and scalable.”

Tembo is already on track to educate over 2 million children, create 100k new jobs, and generate over 25M in profit by 2020. Tembo was listed on Forbes 30 Unders 30 Social Entrepreneurs. They were able to raise a seed fund of $1M last year.

Here’s a message

Here is a powerful message from Phil, the young social entrepreneur, “Life is about finding your true gift. Then, your life becomes about sharing that gift with as many people in the world as possible to better serve them. To provide them with a better quality of life. Better than they ever expected. Can you imagine a world where everyone did exactly what they were naturally gifted at? A world where everyone loved what they did? That’s a world full of peace and love. A world everyone is excited to take part in. That’s a world I want to live in.”

He has more to say, “If you self reflect each year, you can have a bad year. If you self reflect every month, you can only have a bad month. If you self reflect every day, you can only have a bad day. Your business is not the business. You are the business.”