AYODEJI BELLO: THE AFROPRENEUR MAKING A DIFFERENCE

BY Ojie King

Photo Credit: CNN

The other day, a friend put up a status that stated simply “AFROPRENEUR”. I was intrigued by this term because I had never come across it before. I got my friend to explain it to me and he pointed me to an article on CNN’s website.

Being an African, more specifically a Nigerian, my blood always gets burning whenever I meet or hear about Nigerians getting their heads out of the Nigerian boxes and doing fresh and innovative things (believe me when I say, it takes great courage and drive, to get your head of the box in Nigeria). Interestingly enough on reading the article I found out that, Ayodeji adopted the term ‘Afropreneur’ (actually he’d rather be called that, kind of like instead of calling Janet Jackson, its Miss Jackson, it you’re nasty!). This term describes clever, independent and technology savoir-faire entrepreneurs using their think tanks and daring to be innovative (getting their heads of out the boxes) to take over the economic destiny of Africa. His overall purpose is to advance the entrepreneurship skills in Africans by providing access to free information, which is for Africans to be self-reliant and not be dependent on multinationals or the government for solutions to problems and instead solve their problems themselves.

To fulfill that purpose, he co-set up the Wennovation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria. This is a technology legroom environment, where motivated and talented entrepreneurs (about 100 so far) can come together and transform their innovative ideas into flourishing businesses. He did this because he believes that as a result of the mountain of issues concerning Africa, there needs to be a place whereby people can come together as one collective and sit down and hatch out solutions. Prior to this, he co-set up, AfyaZima, a health technology and management enterprise that takes advantage of the rise of cellular phones and further low-cost technologies across Africa to make available access to essential heal information.

What intrigues me about this man is that he is a dreamer and is making sure that his dream comes to a reality. He has a dream that by providing access (access to good learning resources and access to good health facilities), Africa will be a place where people like the developed world, can survive on their own and make wonderful lives for themselves without needing to rely on anyone. You see, the basic needs of man are home, shelter and food and I will add access good health. Man can only meet the home-food-shelter need when he is giving the skills to do so, which is access to learning resources and man can only continue to meet this need when he is provided with access to good health. Give a man or a woman access to these two things and watch what happens!

His firm was awarded the 2012 Dell Technology Award in association with Oxford Engineering World Health Group for a low-cost device called Blood Pressure MCuff. This device enables one to monitor his or her blood pressure and transmits this data via cell phone to doctors. This allows the doctors to instantly send treatment recommendations for patients. He has set up another firm called Yokwazi. This is quite a daring and ambitious project by all counts because it is aimed enabling students and teachers across Africa with access to free open online courses via the internet, which they otherwise will not be privy to because of broadband limitations in some of these areas in Africa. The plan is to install a wireless cloud device called OTGPlaya (which was developed in the Wennovation Hub) in specific communities to store and serve out online educational resources. The device works by downloading the content once, storing the content and serving the content to people who have Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Ojie KING || Put simply, Ojie is a dreamer, a pure dreamer and his aim is to get out his dreams to reality.

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