3 Notes

Fresh Insight and Some Good Stories about Africa

For the upcoming MIT Africa Innovate! Conference (April 14, 2012 @ 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.  

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