One year ago, TED and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation organized the global event TEDxChange. Going beyond ‘ideas worth spreading’, the collaborative wanted to benefit from the passion and knowledge of the community and turn ideas into practice.
In Amsterdam, TEDxChange invited eight energetic speakers to present their vision and asked TEDsters how they could help them to get further. One of the speakers was Ndubuisi Ekekwe, an American-Nigerian engineer and the founder of the African Institute of Technology. His mission is to reshape Africa through technological developments. He participated in TEDxChange to get support to realize his ambitious plans. By telephone from Boston, he looks back at this day in September 2010. Although he was unable to attend in person, Ekekwe felt his interlocutors were genuinely interested in his ideas.
The day partially shaped his new start-up Fasmicro: “During the day, someone suggested to offer IT services, such as webhosting. I never had considered that myself, as I’m trained in electronics. Next to these services, now we are offering the best selling tablet in Nigeria, Ovim, named after my village. They also created the first African tool monitoring CO2 in cities.”
At the TEDxChange table of Ekekwe, the discussion was led by Yvette van Eenennaam, business manager change & integration at ABN Amro. Starting with the motto “no man is wise enough by himself”, she strives to connect people in building a brighter future. She recalls the day as very inspiring and relaxed: “All present were very eager to contribute to one or more of the projects and were full of energy to make the world a better place. Ndubuisi, partially thanks to TEDxChange Amsterdam, managed to take a couple of steps in his project. He got some support by the development consultants of PUM to further elaborate his business model for Fasmicro.”
Fasmicro is growing and is becoming a respected IT firm in Nigeria. But it is not the only plan that Ekekwe successfully pitched at TEDxChange. Another initiative he started is Afritedia, an online library on technology publications at African universities that just went live this summer.
So with a successful start up and a website with dissertation, what more is there to wish for Ekekwe? On my question how the TED community can further promote technology in Africa, he firmly states that it isn’t money that Africa needs; “What we need is talented, hands-on people to come here and share their ideas, in a practical way. For instance, the market for video-games in Nigeria is booming, but I need someone to teach me how to programme them.” Do I see a volunteer raise her hands?
To see what progress the other speakers at TEDxChange made, please read “What changes has TEDxChange made?“.