Empathetic AI: Elggo’s Mission to Enhance Children’s Mental Wellbeing
In the foundational stages of education, where minds are shaped and personalities are formed, the importance of mental health awareness cannot be overstated. One startup recognized this and curated a pioneering product for schools in MENA: Elggo.
Let’s understand how they are using AI to tap into the “human side” and laying the groundwork for a generation that prioritizes mental health.
Response to the need for a transformative change
“The genesis of Elggo was influenced by the challenging circumstances following the Beirut explosion, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. During that period, we recognized a significant gap in the availability of evidence-based mental health resources accessible to schools, educators, students, and parents.”, says Mirna Mneimneh, co-founder of Elggo.
As the idea began taking the form of a tangible product, the decision to incorporate AI into their product offering came naturally. This move was strategic and necessary to remain relevant in a post-pandemic world relying heavily on technology for all aspects of life.
“This shift presented us with a unique opportunity to develop Elggo, merging AI with our mission to address the deeply personal aspects of mental well-being”.
The AI tool caring for young minds
Elggo is a digital wellbeing platform introduced exclusively for K12 MENA schools. “By leveraging AI and data analytics, Elggo intends to create personalized learning experiences that are mindful of the mental health needs of students and educators.”, states Mirna.
Features like mood-tracking, interactive journaling, gamified learning, and a well-curated resource hub are some of the few highlights that make this platform accessible and fun for students.
Their holistic curriculum is well-rounded, focusing on Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) touchpoints, such as self-awareness, relationship skills, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and self-management.
The program, comprising 8-9 advisory sessions, integrates seamlessly into any academic curriculum without disruption.
Data confidence is crucial for Elggo because “digital platforms can offer anonymity, making it easier for individuals to seek help.” Moreover, it helps bypass the stigma that is still attached to mental health in these regions.
Teachers are provided with certified training as part of the onboarding process, equipping them with the required know-how to deliver the program effectively. The highly adaptive approach of Elggo ensures that each student can be assessed on a personalized level, based on their own unique learning style and needs.
Elggo’s unique positioning in the EdTech space
In the past two years, the EdTech industry experienced a steep growth, owing largely to the shift to online education during the pandemic. But there is a common trend.
A lot of tech-enabled solutions focus on making learning experiences more immersive and engaging for students. While on the other end of this spectrum, most AI-based mental health tools are targeted toward employee well-being or the adult demographic in general.
But Elggo is strategically positioned at the intersection of mental health, technology, and education for school children. “In the MENA region, where such integrated solutions are still emerging, Elggo has the potential to lead this transformation," believes Mirna.
Recently, Elggo was selected to be part of the Cohort 04 of Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Program, an initiative led by the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority.
Forging success amidst adversity
Despite the rising number of women-led startups in the region, there still remains a glaring funding disparity. According to a report, of the $2.4 billion raised from January to September 2022, only 2% was invested in women-founded startups in MENA.
Mirna’s personal experience echoes this struggle. “Overcoming societal stereotypes and expectations regarding women in leadership and technology has been a primary challenge”, she shares.
This underestimation extends into funding, with Mirna noting, “Investors can be hesitant to back tech startups led by women, due to a combination of traditional views and lack of precedent. This required me to be more innovative and persistent in presenting my business case”
This underscores the need for continued efforts to level the playing field and address systematic barriers hindering women’s access to funding opportunities, especially in the tech industry.
Her source of strength? The power of community: “Building a support network of other women entrepreneurs became a source of strength and inspiration. We shared experiences, offered advice, and provided the encouragement that is so vital in a challenging entrepreneurial journey.”
So, what kind of future is Elggo trying to envision?
In an era dominated by digital experiences, students and educators are trying to navigate a world vastly different than how it was a decade ago. The very digital landscape that propels us forward also poses a silent threat to mental health, particularly among students. In the age of cyberbullying and diminishing in-person interactions, the mental well-being of the youth often takes a backseat.
Schools play a pivotal role in shaping young minds, which is why Elggo steps in at the grassroots level to champion mental health awareness.
As co-founder Mirna emphasizes, “We envision a future where our platform can identify early signs of mental stress in learners and provide proactive support or interventions. This approach could revolutionize how mental health is addressed in educational settings, making well-being a fundamental part of the learning process.”
She perfectly encapsulates Elggo’s long-term vision, stating, “Ultimately, Elggo's mission is to create a holistic educational ecosystem that nurtures not just intellectual growth but also emotional and mental development, paving the way for a more resilient, aware, and mentally healthy generation.”