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I had an amazing time July 5 in Atlanta speaking along with some amazing speakers to over 100 young professionals at the 2013 Young Adults Summer Retreat. My talk (see synopsis below) is taken from “On Your Marks, Get Set, Goals!” my 3-part personal development and goals setting workshop.
Your telephone voicemail is is programmed to ask two simple questions: Who are you and what do you want? Most people live their entire lives without ever answering either one! Continue reading
Had a great time speaking at the London Leadership Forum on Friday, June 28 in London UK. See below the synopsis of my talk at the Forum which was organized by the London think-tank, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue
The African Spring: How ‘Afropreneurs’ will shape Africa’s future
African populations are growing rapidly. It is expected that by 2040, the total African population will be the largest in the world, surpassing both China and India. Jobs are not keeping pace with population growth rates and issues of unemployment acutely affect the growing ‘youth bulge’ across the continent, which has implications for political stability across the continent, as has recently been witnessed by many of the northern Arab States, and even more recently in Mali and Northern Nigeria. Continue reading
Plan your finish, or your finish is planned ; An overview of the 800-years old graduation ceremony at the University of Oxford.
I am a big believer in finishing what I start, and so June 22, 2013, so having matriculated in Oxford back in October 2011, I headed back to the city of dreaming spires to partake in the 800-year tradition of an Oxford graduation.
Below is my feeble attempt to capture the amazing event in a few words and pictures.
Wearing this attire -the advanced student gown-in Oxford could mean any of several things: from matriculation, to taking an exam, to attending a formal dinner, to going for a ball, to preparing for graduation. Continue reading
Last year, as part of activities in honor of Rice University‘s centennial celebration, I was honored to be featured in the film ;Young, Gifted and Black; Reflections from Black Alumni at Rice.
The 80-minute film explores the lives of 15 distinguished black alumni before they came to Rice, during their stay at Rice and their careers after Rice. You can enjoy the excerpt below, and you can order the full DVD here
A few weeks ago, I attended the 2nd year reunion of my Executive MBA Class with whom I had spent two very intense and exciting years at Rice University between 2009 and 2011. It was great to see several people again and to catch up to what people had been up to since I had been unable to attend the previous year, when I was stuck somewhere else on the other side of the Atlantic between Oxford and Swaziland. Continue reading
Its been a while since I blogged last. Since I left Oxford about 9 months ago, I have been busy. So busy I keep putting off updating this blog. I have gotten several emails from folks out there asking what I have been up to.
Hence I plan to blog more frequently. However, I am going to trying keeping my posts short, and most times it will be some quick reflections on article/books I have recently read, or new ideas I have recently come across. Comments are welcome as always.
For the most part these days, my time is divided between Houston (with family and working on a software project for the energy industry) , Nigeria (where I still oversee the work at Wennovation Hub of creating more afropreneurs) and airports (where I relax in between flights ).
Not had time to blog for some time, and I hope to make up for that soon. But I could not help putting this post up to support an initiative by my youth corper (NYSC) medical doctor baby sister to bring attention to the issue of breast cancer in Nigeria. Below is verbatim from her….
Breast cancer is a major killer of women worldwide. It is the commonest cancer affecting women and the fifth commonest cause of cancer death worldwide. Here in Nigeria, it is the commonest malignancy and is estimated to kill 25,000 women annually, making it the commonest cause of cancer death in them.
A diagnosis of breast cancer puts overwhelming stress on the patient, family members and close friends. It disrupts family relationships causing considerable physical, psychological and occupational vulnerability, which persists even long after treatment. However, these consequences can be significantly lessened when it is diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Continue reading
The “Wennovation Hub Initiative” has been selected as a finalist in the SAP/Ashoka ‘The Power of Small Competition‘.
The flagship creation of US-Nigerian business incubator ‘LoftyInc’, the Wennovation Hub was one of 11 finalists selected from more than 370 innovations submitted globally, tackling various issues around innovation and entrepreneurship. To emerge winner, friends of Wennovation Hub are invited to VOTE at this LINK.
As a competition finalist, the Wennovation Hub is “being honored for outstanding demonstration of innovation, social impact, and sustainability” according to a Press Release by the Ashoka Changemaker organizers.
The Wennovation Hub has been invited to participate in the SAPPHIRE NOW event organized by SAP in Madrid from November 13-16, 2012. Represented by its Program Director, Idris Bello,the Hub will showcase the power of its innovative model for powering start-ups in Frontier Markets. This model of “Product to Commercialization” has yielded six portfolio companies in the past year, three of which were funded by outside investors, and four of which are in full operations today.
The four finalists with the highest number of online votes will be announced as winners at the SAPPHIRE NOW event in Madrid. Wennovation supporters, friends, and well-wishers across the globe are invited and urged to VOTE for the platform at:
Just click on the check mark icon next to our entry, and LOG-IN with your Facebook Account to have your votes recorded. You can also create an account if you do not want to vote via Facebook.
Your vote for ‘taking the Wennovation dream to the next level’ will be appreciated!
So my work got featured recently on CNN. See below;
(CNN) — His full name is Idris Ayodeji Bello, but you might just call him “Afropreneur.”
That’s the buzzword adopted by the young Nigerian to describe the bright, independent and tech savvy entrepreneurs using creative thinking and the power of innovation to take over Africa’s economic destiny.
“Over time Africa has relied on government and big multinationals for solutions — but they’re not coming,” explains Bello.
“But of recent you’re seeing a new wave of young men and women who have access to all the global networks, who’ve studied either within the continent or outside and have this passion for change — these are the people Africa’s change is going to come from, these are the people I call ‘Afropreneurs.'”
And Bello is certainly leading by example.
At just 33 years old, he has already been involved in several tech initiatives aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship and empowering communities across Africa
Connecting solutions to problems
Early last year, Bello co-founded the Wennovation Hub in Nigeria, a technology space enabling ambitious entrepreneurs to come together and develop their trailblazing ideas into successful businesses.
The Lagos-based hub, one of the many innovation centers that have recently mushroomed across Africa, has so far incubated the efforts of more than 100 entrepreneurs, providing them with space, support and consulting.
“Part of our own responsibility is to connect the talent to the opportunity,” says Bello. “We took the “i” out of innovation and replaced it with the “we” and came up with the Wennovation Hub — the problems of Africa are huge, they cannot be solved by one person alone, so it requires people coming together.”
Access is key
Born in Nigeria to a family of academics, Bello says he learned from an early age the importance of access to information.
Growing up, he says, he was surrounded by books. “We had a mantra in our house,” remembers Bello. “My dad would always say ‘never get caught without a book,’ so whether you had lunch or you were sleeping, you always had to have your book.”
Bello went on to study computer science in Nigeria before moving to the United States and the UK to further his academic knowledge in entrepreneurship and global health. Along the way, his entrepreneurial spirit kicked in — he worked for multinationals such as Procter & Gamble and Chevron and also got involved in a number of startups.
But Africa was always bound to be central to Bello’s work. Passionate about his continent, he quickly ventured into what he describes as “the business of technology in health and education.”
‘An app a day keeps the doctor away’
As a result, Bello co-founded AfyaZima, a health technology and management startup that leverages the rise of mobile phones and other low-cost technologies across Africa to provide access to vital health information.
The startup won the 2012 Dell Technology Award — in collaboration with the Oxford Engineering World Health Group — for Blood Pressure MCuff, a low-cost device that enables blood pressure monitoring and data transmission via mobile phones. The technology hence acts as a communication channel for doctors to remotely send treatment recommendations to their patients.
The concept is this: at the moment you put mobile phone on everybody’s hands, how can it comes to that … instead of people going to the hospital, the hospital comes to you,”Bello says. “Growing up, they used to tell us an apple a day keeps the doctor away, now it’s more like an app a day keeps the doctor away.”
AfyaZima, which comes from a Swahili word for complete health, is also working to create a cloud-based service that will receive the mobile phone data and store them in an electronic health record.
‘Bringing online education to an offline world’
But perhaps Bello’s most daring project to date is YoKwazi: an ambitious initiative aiming to change Africa’s education landscape by putting learning resources to the hands of students and teachers across the continent.
Bello explains that due to broadband constraints many young Africans are losing out in the major shift toward open education in parts of the developed world, where massive open online courses are offered for free.
“That’s where I step in,” he says. “I come from the developing world but I have had access to this good education and so my goal is to bridge that gap — to knock down that barrier of broadband.”
Still at testing stage, YoKwazi aims to deploy OTGPlaya, an offline wireless cloud device, in key community areas to house and host online educational tools. The device, which was incubated at the Wennovation Hub, will do a one-time download, store the content and make it available for people nearby to access it through their wi-fi enabled devices.
“It’s about bringing online education to an offline world,” says Bello.
Legacy of ‘Afropreneurs’
Multifarious and passionate, Bello says his mission as an “Afropreneur” is to enable access to information so that people can tap into their own creativity to solve their problems without having to rely on government.
“A lot of times we’re focused too much on trying to solve people’s problems. But people are the ones who best know their own problems but often can lack the tools they need,” he says.
“When you give people access to health education, they will take better care of their health; when you give people access to education, you will see people even do greater things,” adds Bello. “We enable people to access — when they know, they will solve their problems. That my proposition.”
So busy I have not had time to keep this blog updated.
I was here to work on an m-Health project with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Ministry of Health in Swaziland aimed at improving appointment attendance (and ultimately retention) among pre-ART and ART patients through the deployment of what we refer to in-house as the AP Reminder System.
But I have been doing more than mHealth in the small but beautiful country of Swaziland as you will discover from this CNN iReport . Its been a different clinic each day, a different mountain each weekend. I have gone hiking, rock climbing (including Sibebe Rock-the world’s largest exposed granite dome and second biggest rock after Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia), and on a safari trip. I even managed to experience an earthquake
In June, I took some time off from Swaziland to make a 2-day trip to London. I had been named as one of the “10 Most Outstanding Black Students in the UK for 2012″ by a panel consisting of Rt. Hon. David Lammy MP, Trevor Phillips OBE, Chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, and Jean Tomlin, HR Director for London 2012.
Organized annually by Rare Rising Stars, I was deeply humbled to be so chosen and attended the Awards Ceremony on June 7 at the House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London.
From London, I was off to Texas, where my team, AfyaZima Africa had just been announced as the 2012 Winner of the $10,000 Best Innovation Leveraging Technology Award presented by Dell, Inc
This is what Dell had to say:
At Dell, we believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are not “born” but can be “bred” through the right community, support, tools and inspiration. And we’re especially delighted to announce the winner of the Dell Technology Award: AfyaZima Blood Pressure mCuff, a low-cost device that eases blood pressure measurement and transmission via a mobile in hopes of early hypertension diagnosis, especially in areas with low resources.
The trip to Austin was amazing as prior to the awards ceremony, I got to visit the Dell Headquarters, where I met one-on-one with Michael Dell, CEO and Founder of Dell and the rest of the amazing Dell Team.
I was also impressed at how Dell uses Social Media, as evidenced by the amazing tools at the Social Media Center which I had the opportunity to visit. I even found one of my Dell-related tweets on the screen.
I also had the opportunity to share my personal inspiration and thoughts about innovation in a changing world with Dell employees by speaking on a Dell Innovation panel moderated by the young but very impressive Nnamdi Orakwue (Harvard & Wharton alum), Dell’s Director of Strategy, who also doubles as Executive Assistant to Michael Dell.
Then it was time for the award ceremony at the Austin City Limits Theatre followed by a sumptous dinner afterwards.
With my time in the US up, I thus returned to the Kingdom of Swaziland but not before a short tour of Frankfurt!
Until my next blogpost, I invite you to join me in dreaming bigger, scarier dreams, because if your dream does not scare you, it’s probably not big enough!
Remember that people who dream in their sleep are dreamers, but those who dare to dream while they are awake are the people that change the world.
Nigeria is in a crossroads of between a decent modern nation and chaos. The Nigerian economy is forecast to grow and overtake that of South Africa, making Nigeria officially the giant of Africa. But, can this giant country be a pioneer for the continent of Africa?
Panel: Dr Sheriff Alabi – Consultant with African Development Bank
Kayode Ogundamisi – Convener of the Nigeria Liberty Forum UK
Idris Bello- Afropreneur, and President, Oxford University Africa Society and Afropreneur
Jesse Adeniji – Analyst on Nigeria policies
Dipo Salimonu – CEO Ateriba and Founder Eirenicon Africa – a platform of ongoing presentations by, and discussions with political, business, social and intellectual leaders from across the African continent
This email from one of the viewers got me rolling on the floor!
When Nigerians loot money, they keep it in Switzerland
When sick, they go to Germany or India
When investing, they go to the US
When buying mansions, they visit London
When shopping, they go to Dubai
When on holiday, they go to Paris or the Bahamas
When educating their kids, they select Europe
When praying, they go to Saudi Arabia or Jerusalem
But when they die, they want to be buried in Nigeria.
Is Nigeria now a cemetry?
By Seun Babalola