“We truly have a choice – but of course we also need surprises. How many of you would believe that we could use only numbers and statistics to build a nation like the United states.
The story I have to tell, will share a perspective, my perspective, I will not enter the bandwagon of negativity neither will I go on a sprint for propaganda. This a story, my story and maybe that of million of others.
My background and family have nothing of extra special, so I thought. My mum is a retired scholar from the western part of Cameroon known as the Bamilekes precisely Bangante but grew up in the anglophone region of the country, she did her studies locally but was offered a scholarship to England where she got her masters from university of Warwick, her tribe however were popularly known for the economic know how, and my father former diplomat and ex Chief Technical Advisor in the Private Sector Development Program of the UNDP, who had the opportunity to dine with Fidel Castro, fancy and has had more far achievements than I can list, but this isn’t about my parents, though as it plays out, you don’t choose which family you are born into, but their achievements will forever change your life regardless..
I would come to discover the Anglophones and the Bamilekes, have often been sought to be highly disregarded and mismanaged, but that is problem I readily acknowledged, because as Charles Swindoll said “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of what you do about it”
Despite my origins, over the years I had come to developed a deep sense of passion of places and also the belief that though one do not choose where you are born, you can choose what you will become, So, my credo became the acknowledgement and the act. One without the other is self-indulgence. This is what I believed.
“C’est de la Bouyabaise !!!”, the sentence I use each time I find a situation unbelievably ridiculous, and right now that is what I’m saying while writing this. Just to clear out any doubt I am not a hero, an ex-soldier, a millionaire, an ex convict, politician or a child soldier.
I will not be dramatic or self pitying, this is not a #kony2012 campaign.
Though, I may not have invented anything yet or won the lottery or raised a Million dollars for my startup; the fact is as a young adult I face similar challenges any Black – African – Cameroonian would face; finishing with school, career job, thinking of dropping out and focusing on my startup full-time, trying to convince my friends to invest their money in me, reassuring my mother everything is fine, uploading wonderful pictures of me on facebook and keeping up with my emotional life, learning lessons from my past failed relationship, like don’t cheat on your partner, it isnt fair to her and my son David Ive never met.
Instead of focusing on those Ill like to share something else too I believe in fervently, something journalists, authors, critics, and some of my very own people instead harshly criticize and complain about, with a majority of their solutions being nothing but insanely radical.
I believe in the nation of Cameroon
I’ve always wondered if there was something I personally could do for my nation, because the Cameroon I know is beautiful, challenging, corrupt, young, lazy, poor and ambitious, but most importantly, no matter what I think of this country it will continue to thrive in an upward curve, if not for the straightforward reason the is a brink of hope, for everyone. Economists, politicians, journalists and foreign policy experts with their statistics and historical facts may find counter arguments to prove me wrong, but I have come to learn that in life “they are lies, damn lies and statistics”.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.Steve Jobs
For the upcoming MIT Africa Innovate! Conference (April 14, 2014 @ the MIT Media Lab), I’ve had the pleasure of curating a series of talks on the question, “What is your big idea for business in Africa?”
The idea is simple: in a rapid round of inspiration, we wanted leading-edge thinkers and do-ers to talk about their big ideas for business in Africa. We sought out a variety of perspectives (geographic and topical), a freshness of insight, and the power of compelling storytelling.
We won’t give it all away — but audience members will hear how fabrication, love, human capital, disruptive branding, and tech metropoli hold promise for big things on the continent.
We are thrilled to present four “Vision Talk” speakers for this portion of the conference. They are:
Magatte Wade is a serial entrepreneur who was born in Senegal, educated in France, and who started her entrepreneurial career in the U.S. Her first company, Adina World Beverages, was based on indigenous Senegalese beverage recipes. She recently launched her second company, Tiossan, which sells skin care products based on indigenous Senegalese recipes at high-end boutiques and at www.tiossan.com. She was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum at Davos for 2011 and Forbes named her one of the “20 Youngest Power Women of Africa.” Magatte is a frequent speaker on college campuses, including Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, MIT, etc. She writes for The Huffington Post and reviews books for Barron’s. She blogs at www.magatte.wordpress.com and at www.tiossano.com/blog.
David Sengeh is a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab where his research is focused on the design of comfortable prosthetic interfaces. David’s work is at the intersection of medical imaging, material science, human anatomy, and computer aided design and manufacturing. David was born and raised in Sierra Leone before attending the Red Cross Nordic United World College in Norway on scholarship. He earned his Bachelors degree in Biomedical Engineering at Harvard College where his research at the Edwards lab focused on aerosolizing the TB vaccine BCG for delivery to the lungs. David is the founder of Global Minimum Inc. (GMin), an international NGO that has distributed over 15,000 mosquito nets in Sierra Leone. Currently, GMin is partnering with students at MIT to facilitate a high school-oriented innovation challenge in Sierra Leone. David is also a co-founder of one of Popular Mechanic’s Innovators of the Year 2009, Lebone Solutions Inc. – a company that won $200,000 from the World Bank to produce microbial fuel cells in Africa. He has worked in Zambia, Namibia, Dubai and other locations on various projects on education, health care delivery, and medical device design.
Eric M.K Osiakwan has over 10 years experience helping setup ISPs in 32 African countries. Notably, Eric was part of the team that built the TEAMS submarine cable in Kenya, and is an ICT consultant for the World Bank, Soros Foundations, UNDP, USAID and numerous African governments. In addition, he has founded numerous companies and associations including Novica.com, Internet Research, BusyInternet, InHand, PenPlusBytes, the African ISP Association and the Ghana ISP Association. Eric co-authored the “Open Access Model” which has becomes a global model for the communication industry. He also served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Ghana New Ventures Competition, as a board member of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), and was part of Ghana Connect, an initiative focused on making broadband accessible and affordable. Eric is studying towards an MSc in Practising Sustainable Development at the Royal Holloway University of London and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Tunde Kehinde is a co-founder of Bandeka.com, an invite-only social community where Africans around the globe can connect to create meaningful relationships online and offline. Tunde formed Bandeka with his classmate from business school, Yaw Boateng with the view that it should be easier for Africans looking to connect with other talented Africans and friends of Africa to meet. Thus, Bandeka’s vision is to be the premier platform where exceptional Africans around the world can connect to make new friendships, form new business contacts or date. Prior to Bandeka, Tunde worked as a Business Development Manager for Africa at Diageo in London and in Investment Banking with Wachovia Securities in New York. Tunde grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, holds a BBA in Finance from Howard University and an MBA from Harvard. He is also an avid fan of Liverpool Football Club.
MIT is known for its focus on innovation and technology and, in that vein, we have invited as conference keynote speakers Ben Murray Bruce, CEO of Silverbird Group and Cina Lawson, Minister of Post and Telecommunications in Togo. Panels will include leading lights in mobile and technology, media and entertainment, food and agriculture, and China and India in Africa.
There are opportunities for conference participants to share their big ideas for business in Africa during the Enterprise Africa Business Competition and to get to know new friends or catch up with old ones at the after-party.
We are expecting a really big crowd at the Media Lab (the conference blew away expectations in its inaugural version last year) — but there are still tickets available for the full conference and after party. Register here
And if you want to share your big ideas for business in Africa, tweet them to us @MITSloanABC using the hashtag #BIBA.
Join the conversation!
Leslie Njamen Tita : “Social Networking is becoming such big trend nowadays, we can see new ones popping everyday, and very lately, a Cameroonian social networking site was launched by Mambe Churchill and Papa Qube, called Camerborn, in the effort to answer the needs of the local population which sites likeFacebook, Hi5 and Myspace haven’t, I wouldn’t dare say these sites haven’t radically changed the way we communicate today, but rather what I’m saying is these networks aren’t adapted to the local cultures, Lets see a practical example,Facebook today enables a Cameroonian teenager to chat with his friend from India, see the photos of his girlfriend who lives in Britain and read the status of his brother studying in the US and also its enables him to spend countless hours playing CafeWorld and FrontierVille, But what it doesn’t enable him to do, is to prepare for his upcoming or BAC examinations, it doesn’t enable him share his homework with his classmate who is in Nkoukolou and also, it doesn’t enable him to find other students like him who have difficulties in Maths and are looking for ways to fix that and people to share that with. Camerborn was created to enable that. I was greatly privileged to be part of the project, and thus i took upon the task to redesign the present UI (User Interface) to something more COOL, and I thought it will be easy to do, but little did i know, that designing for the Social Media could be very challenging.
That challenge definitely made it more interesting, and thus I discovered like many before me that UIs for social sites have nothing to do with the UIs for traditional websites, because in a social networking, you have to think like the user and not like a designer, you also have the obligation to design what will be pleasant and usable for the users and not what pleases you, you must be guided by the principles of usability, user experience and user interaction, but the most challenging aspect, is that of designing a product that will be simple enough for the millions of Cameroonians with its 3.9% internet penetration and over 176 660 Facebook users but also be mature enough for the other visitors from around the world, so i was inspired in a first run by a concept an Australian designer Barton Smith developed “Facebook Facelift”, actually he took upon himself to redesign Facebook.
So after days and days of brainstorming and prototyping on paper and in my mind, I came up with what I would call the profile page design, I know you might ask yourself “Why did he first design the profile page before the home page” , I have no answer to that, so the designs goes as thus, at the top the logo and menu items. Below that the share section and profile picture and immediately below that, the different post and profile menu items
From the above design its was pretty easy to do the Home page, surprisingly after that ideas simply just flowed in, and I changed tons of things, finally came up with this as the landing page,
After consultations with team members, it was decided the background be changed back to Black, which I clearly didn’t like but as I earlier said, you aren’t designing for yourself and the founders also decided it would be better we change the Camerborn UI gradually and not to do a complete redesign, Good Decision or Not, only the future can tell. I also decided to play around with the interface for mobile web and also a co-worker William Takor adapted the design for iPhone.
I will be posting the PSD files i used in these designs shortly for your private and public use.