Happy New month!!! It’s incredible that December 2015 is here already!!!
On #EntrepreneurTuesday we feature one of the young and the restless; the new breed of techpreneurs rearing to change the world through tech. Enjoy!
He was chosen from a highly competitive pool to attend the 2015 MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in the United States. He is a fellow of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP 2015). He was chosen to present at the African Union Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the 2015 eLearning Africa Conference and is slated to make similar presentations in Berlin at the Online Educational Conference in December 2015 and at the Innovation Arabia Conference early next year in Dubai.
A few weeks ago, he bagged the Anzisha prize for young entrepreneurs in Africa, winning prize money of $25, 000. He was candid about his triumph: “I did not believe that I could have won the prize when the competition started. But I feel confident in what I can achieve now given the capital and training that I have received through the Anzisha Prize. I congratulate all the other finalists as I believe they were all very impressive and look forward to engaging them as we support each other to grow going forward.”
His name is Chris Kwekowe from Nigeria and he co-founded his first start-up, Microboldan -an innovation and research driven ICT solutions provider for Startups and SMEs-, at the age of nineteen. He is also the founder of the award-winning Slatecube which offers a platform for job-relevant skills learning and job placement services.
Slatecube started as an idea-which is how most things start- borne from the need to combine e-learning with the development of skills that actually tackle real-world challenges. So in 2014, Chris started to think of a way to make education engaging, collaborative, industry-relevant, practice driven, and directed towards providing solutions. After several man-hours of research, a blueprint was created and Slatecube was launched in an open beta release on October 2, 2014.
In an interview with itnewsafrica, Chris described the functionality of Slatecube: “Slatecube leverages knowledge with skill acquisition to promote employability and social development by enabling users to learn, collaborate with world class professionals and develop industry relevant skills that make it possible to work anywhere. Slatecube helps individuals develop new knowledge or build on already existing knowledge and then exposes them to industry-relevant skills with hands-on training from real organisations in order to make them more employable and improve their social and economic relevance. Slatecube also provides aesthetically designed e-Learning environment for High Schools (Secondary schools) and Colleges (Tertiary institutions), and offers Virtual Training Modules for organisations to train their staff on professional training programs offered by leading institutes from around the world, without these staff members having to leave their current location, and their job duties thus cutting down on costs.”
As with most endeavours, Chris encountered his peculiar set of challenges. For him, his age and physical appearance belied the importance of the platform he was deploying. In a society which tends to take things at face value, it would have been an uphill task to convince organisations that he was the real McCoy. As a student of Computer Science at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Chris has also had to sacrifice time meant for lectures and studying. More overwhelming perhaps might be the internet connectivity issues which bedevils most African countries. Chris however has plans underway to curb this problem. According to him via itnewsafrica, “I intend to establish internet hubs in strategic places across cities in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda known as Slatecaf to facilitate easier access to Slatecube. The Slatecaf would distribute high-speed internet signals for users to access course contents on Slatecube.”
Slatecube has already been used in all continents of the world, and has offered course training to more than 2000 users (virtually and onsite), most of whom have undergone virtual and onsite internship programs. It’s parent company, Microbold was listed this year as one of Africa’s most promising start-ups by Web Summit.
Chris hopes to create a breed of over 50,000 sound and experienced individuals who are either running their companies, gainfully employed or ready to be adopted into the workforce within 10 years.
Some of his future plans include bringing in even more top-notch industry experts from varied industries and brokering partnerships with more leading organisations from around the world to groom and adopt qualified users, where applicable. Slatecube also plans to initialise and sponsor 50 additional Bootcamps and Educational excursions each year to promote collaboration and other relevant social skills. Finally, Slatecube intends to replicate its courses and skills program in 17 local languages across Africa.
At twenty-two, Chris Kwekowe is taking chances, overcoming challenges and eagerly putting his next foot forward as he strives to revolutionise education and the world through tech. from this young man we learn of the tenacity of purpose and to never, ever judge a book by its cover.