The curious thing about life is that while some folks diminish in the face of hardship, other folks positively flourish in adversity. While some people will groan, murmur and complain about the ostensible hopelessness of their circumstances, others will fight for change, for answers, and for a way out of the communal quagmire.
And so it is with June Arunga! From the age of 12, this Kenyan woman, sought to break the bounds of poverty and deprivation that seemed to be prevalent in her native country. “Why is Africa so poor?” Were the questions her teenage mind pondered while the majority of us thought about boyfriends, clothes and parties…if you had enough to eat, that is.
June Arunga who was born in 1981 in Nairobi, Kenya, remembers having to quit eating breakfast because they could not afford bread, butter and milk!!! She schooled at the Kenya High School, started of her law education at the University of Nairobi, but concluded it at the University of Buckingham, London.
In 2005, at the age of 23, June was contacted by the BBC to host its documentary on Africa, and she jumped at the chance to find answers to her questions even though it meant taking a break from Law School. ‘The Devils Footpath’ was produced as June travelled over 5,000 miles with a BBC film crew from Cairo to Cape Town, documenting a gruelling journey that brought her from war zones, mining towns, and refugee camps to Desmond Tutu’s living room. While she visited with the UN peacekeepers, the local rebels threatened to slit her throat and eat her flesh.
Before she was 27, June had made three more documentaries on Africa; exploring trade, migration, property and wealth in Africa; talk about passion!!! Oh, to be so globally minded!!! She has participated in several Conferences, Television and Radio programs in and outside the continent, including ABC’s 20/20 with John Stossel. She has also written several articles and studies on the economics and public policy issues in Africa.
In 2006, June founded Open Quest Media LLC, a Film and TV Production Company based in New York, USA. OQM produces content for traditional and Internet broadcast, with a primary focus on business trends in Africa. OQM’s content covers economic reforms from liberalization across telecommunications, aviation, and financial markets, to democratic reforms increasing political stability, in certain bright spots and offering enormous profits for early investors.
In 2007, June joined forces with Herman Chinery-Hesse, the Bill Gates of Ghana to found the Black Star Lines, a technology solutions provider in the field of mobile phone-based payments and money transfer, particularly targeting African entrepreneurs.
June serves on the advisory committee of University of the People, is an advisory board member of Moving Picture Institute, Global Envision, and is a fellow at the International Policy Network (London, UK) and Istituto Bruno Leoni (Milan, Italy). June is also an advisor to a variety of start-ups that are technology-focused, and serves on the boards of several international NGOs. This woman is just 32!!!
In 2010, she was included in the ‘100 Most Creative People In Business’ by Fast Company, and in 2011, she was named by Forbes Magazine as one of ‘The Youngest Powerful Women In Africa.’
So why is Africa so poor? June believes that, asking for aid is part of the problem. “I doubt there is a parent that raises their child to become a beggar,” she says. “…there is so much work to be done in Africa and Africans must help themselves. We can no longer afford to rely on rich countries to provide us with foreign aid. It’s the person who the shoe pinches who knows how it needs to be adjusted…”
June must have a headache every day! I mean, there are so many ideas brimming in her head!!!
This saying is turning into a cliché, but we must be the change we want to see. We must go beyond conquering our little spheres to thinking globally. We must, we must, we must!!!