FunDza Literacy Trust, a South African non-profit dedicated to improving literacy among teens and young adults, has announced their partnership with Turn.io to make FunDza's reading content available through WhatsApp. Interested young people in South Africa can simply send “hello” to +27 0600 54 8676 via WhatsApp and then they will have access to South African stories, plays, blogs, poems and more.

Turn.io was incorporated by Praekelt.org and it is a Public Benefit Corporation (PBO) which is looking to build software products for social impact organisations.

“We are very excited to utilise WhatsApp to promote reading amongst teens and young adults in an affordable and engaging way. We first realised the potential whilst experimenting with the personal version of WhatsApp to engage with our readers. Our partnership with Turn.io allows us to manage the content and the engagement process more effectively,"said Mignon Hardie, Executive Director at FunDza.

What is interesting about FunDza's announcement is that it will now make literature available on one of the most popular messaging platforms for South African youth. As such, it is not asking young people to download a separate app and as such a new UI but capitalizing on something they are already familiar with and reading on.

FunDza on WhatsApp has the potential to play an important role in getting teens and young adults excited about reading through the creation and publishing of stories that are distributed in innovative and engaging ways. This is especially important in a country where, according to the latest National Reading Survey, just 14% of adult South Africans identify as committed book readers.

FunDza on WhatsApp engages with young South Africans on the country’s most popular communications platform in a secure, immediate and rich way. Turn.io’s tools will enable FunDza to find new ways of connecting with readers and writers countrywide as part of its mission to promote reading and writing to teens and young adults. It will also allow FunDza to offer new and exciting reading content frequently, and there are plans for reading challenges, competitions and more in the future.

“Turn.io uses the latest advances in machine learning and behavioural science, in combination with WhatsApp’s broad appeal and dedicated user base, to help FunDza create new reading habits among thousands of new readers. We are looking forward to seeing how the channel helps nurture a nation of readers and book lovers,” said Gustav Praekelt, Founder of Praekelt.org.

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