Company website: www.eportfolios.org
ePortfolios is a software company specialising in online solutions for the monitoring and evaluation of teacher’s professional growth and lifelong learning. The solution was originally designed and developed by founder Mohammed Saleem Latif during teacher training at Liverpool Hope University in 2008 and now incorporates the Commonwealth Professional Standards Framework (PSF) – designed by the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2011 to improve teaching quality across the Commonwealth .
The ePortfolios solution enhances pre-service, in-service and continuing professional development of teachers, assisting with reflection and self-assessment of their competencies. It is also an ideal tool for University Tutors and School Mentors to monitor, evaluate and assess teachers’ professional growth.
Beginning with Singapore, the company is now targeting its service at the approximately 20 million teachers across the 52 nations of the Commonwealth which it believes would benefit from the product, suggesting massive growth potential.
We look forward to supporting ePortfolios to leverage this potential, helping in the process to implement the Commonwealth PSF around the globe.
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How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
I was looking to expand the business by incorporating teaching standards from countries apart from the UK when I came across the Commonwealth Standards Framework for Teachers & School Leaders. This led me to the CWIEC website which, in turn, took me to the Commonwealth First Export programme.
As I had an innovative solution that could potentially help 52 countries document and evidence their professional teaching standards on one platform, I had nothing to lose and very much to gain by becoming involved with Commonwealth First.
How did the idea for your business come about?
During teacher training we were required to submit an ePortfolio of evidence so that our School Mentor could assess our teaching performance and our University Tutor could judge whether to grant a teaching qualification. This was such a laborious process for all concerned that I decided to develop the online ePortfolio based on my own experience.
What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
Converting the ePortfolio idea into a working solution was the greatest challenge. Having achieved this, the next challenging task was finding, connecting with and convincing key decision makers in universities and government to adopt the solution.
What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
As the service we provide is an online software solution, our two key challenges are security and data privacy and these are areas that we are constantly striving to improve and update.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Undoubtedly networking which, amongst other benefits, has led to achieving a product endorsement from Ezra, CEO of the Principals Academy in Singapore. This is crucial to the business succeeding since Singapore’s education system is amongst the most highly regarded in the world.
What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
An opportunity to present our solution to key decision makers in the governments of each of the Major Commonwealth Export Markets plus loads of air miles of course!
What is a typical working day for you?
As Managing Director, no two days are ever the same. Initially I had to sacrifice spending time with my family in order to develop the solution and grow the business. Nowadays I have a more balanced approach where I can give quality time to my business and clients, whilst also looking after myself and my family.
Where would you like your business to be in 5 years’ time?
As one of the Strategic Partners for the CWEIC, we will be in a position to help 52 commonwealth countries develop, document and evidence the professional standards for all professions with a competency framework, not just teachers, With over 20 million users, our ePortfolio social platform will help users learn, reflect, communicate, share resources, find & post work, gain work permits and move freely within the commonwealth. Obviously at this point you can also expect to see us on the London Stock Exchange.
Tell us more about the social aspect of the ePortfolio platform?
Like Facebook, our platform will allow users to connect and share their thoughts and opinions with friends, work colleagues and fellow professionals however it will not rely on a timeline as Facebook does. Instead, its backbone will hinge on professional standards. Also, similar to the LinkedIn concept, users can showcase their skills & achievements however crucially they will also be able to demonstrate how they have developed these over the course of their training & career.
What has been pivotal in the development and direction of your business?
Clearly, feedback has played a very important role in the development and direction of the business. I initially presented the eportfolio concept to South Africa’s education department in 2012, they said it was 10 years ahead of its time – so we are still 5 years’ ahead! More recently, Ezra, CEO of the Principals Academy in Singapore, also expressed his desire to see course features built into the system and it’s something we’re keen to implement in the near future.
What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
If you feel strongly about your idea, go for it and be ready for it to succeed. Don’t let fear of failure, your ethnicity, background, education, family or friends discourage you. Have confidence in yourself and don’t let anyone dilute your determination.