In a promotional video for Amal Aljojo’s children’s card game that promotes learning, a boy daydreams of becoming an engineer. The teacher asks him to spell the word “engineer”. He looks lost but he is soon absorbed by a colourful, fun board game. The child and his classmate pull out fun alphabet cards that help them spell and learn new words.
“I was teaching English to children and I realised that the difficulty for kids in learning language leads to resentment, which motivated me to create an educational game called Cards of Playing and Interaction (COPI) to meet this need for school kids,” shares Amal.
Amal is a 30-year-old Palestinian English graduate and entrepreneur from Gaza. She founded COPI with the aim to design and produce creative, innovative and non-formal ways of supporting children’s language acquisition. In 2011, she graduated from the faculty of Education at Al-Quds University and went on to join SPARK’s Business Startup Incubators Support (BSIS) programme.
Her business idea and marketing strategies were developed by trainers from the Business and Technology Incubator (BIT) of the IUG (Islamic University of Gaza), and she enlisted the expertise of various academics to support her in the designs. After a year of pilots, she participated in the Business Woman Forum and won! She used the winnings from the forum, as well as some of her own capital, to produce the first prototype of the COPI box. Amal made 1000 copies, which contained 6 learning elements for children aged 6+, of various ability levels and a helpful guide, dictionary and manual for learners and teachers/parents.
The COPI game was a huge local success. Selling in 8 locations in Gaza and the West Bank, it is now used to teach English in Gazan schools. Besides being enjoyable and educational, Amal notes that the game also has a competitive aspect that motivates kids to learn more and receive small tokens as positive reinforcement for their achievements.
According to Amal, there are “no similar products in the local or international markets.” A true entrepreneur and educator, she saw a gap in the market for useful, new learning tools for children in her community who lack access to quality education as a result of the situation they were born into. Amal has filled the demand by creating her own unique product. As she says: “I have always been passionate about exploring novel teaching approaches.”