Denise Abulafia

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Finalist 2015 for Latin America

Denise Abulafia

Educatina , ARGENTINA
E-learning platform with free educational video tutorials and interactive exercises.
Born and raised in Argentina, Denise Abulafia, 40, lived in the United States – where she graduated in biochemistry – and Mexico before returning to her home country in 2011. Her experience as a professor led her to create Educatina, an online platform that aims to democratize access to world-class education.
Dropout crisis
With a dropout rate of 40 to 50%, Latin America faces an educational crisis. Even if primary school enrolment is high, graduation rates are low in the region. By the age of 18, almost 1 student out of 2 has quit school. “We used to think the problem was mainly due to poverty but it’s not”, says Denise. “What happens is students get bored, they get frustrated because the learning process has nothing to do with their real job prospects so they just leave.”
“We are talking about more than 3 million students per month that are logging into educatina.com to learn at their own pace.”
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Any time, anywhere, any device
Educatina produces an online platform that provides free educational content in Spanish and Portuguese. The website is available 24/7 on laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Students can access up to 5,000 video lessons and interactive exercises on a wide range of topics – from linguistics to accounting and chemistry. A team of 1,500 trained and certified tutors from around the globe record video tutorials and develop content. “Our mission is to democratise access to world-class education to millions of students to help them learn at their own pace and to also have fun in the process”, says Denise. Thanks to the growing success of Educatina, the company developed a paid service called Aulaya that allows users to connect with a professor one to one.
“We have students from K12 to college level and beyond. There are not only kids that are coming to learn but also parents and teachers that are learning subjects like history of art or astronomy.”
Cultural barriers
Denise launched Educatina back in 2011, starting with publishing her own video lessons online. “I’m a biologist so I started to do biology videos and we put them on YouTube. Suddenly, we had 10,000 views in a couple of days so we thought that we might have a big opportunity.” A few years on, Educatina has grown to 11 employees. One of the main challenges the company had to overcome is people’s mistrust in e-learning processes and online payment systems. “Latin America is starting to develop payment options to pay safely online but not everybody has a credit card or trusts the web to go on and pay for something”, says Denise. “E-learning itself is something that we need to educate our communities about.”