Can You Start A Successful Business with Just $10? This Man Did.

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“Don’t think that you need a lot of capital. Start with little, but use the knowledge and the environment that you already have.”

Ten dollars — that’s all that Rwandan science teacher Cephas Nshimyumuremyi had to start his business with two years ago.

It may sound less than promising, but Cephas made that initial investment go a long way. “The $10 helped me to purchase the empty bottle in order to put my product on the market,” says Cephas. Today, his company Uburanga Products, which makes herbal jelly and soap from local medicinal plants, is worth $30,000 and employs 12 workers.
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His idea for natural cosmetics with healing properties came from trying to teach his students how the science they were learning in class could be applied in practical ways: “I teach chemistry so I showed my students how you can test a plant, and know the capacity of that plant to kill bacteria,” says the young entrepreneur, who launched his company to supplement his income from teaching.

Cephas also wanted to use the local medicinal plants, used by some traditional healers, in a scientific way. Herbs used in Cephas’ remedies are grown in a botanical garden, then dried and mixed to create either soap or jelly. “The products made by Uburanga help the skin to be smooth and they protect from bacteria which can cause skin disease,” says the entrepreneur. His future goal is to provide the solution for “skin diseases caused by bacteria all around Africa.”
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Like with many new businesses, the greatest challenge Cephas had to overcome was getting the word about his product out to a wider audience, without having money to advertise. Another was the high cost of containers in which his products are sold, which he had to import: “In our country there is no industry producing such kind of bottles and cartons, so we purchase them from Kampala,Uganda.”

In a previous interview, when asked for his advice to fellow would-be entrepreneurs, he replied,

“First, I would tell young entrepreneurs to have a quality of using the little means they have and then put emphasis on the power of knowledge to help them achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. The power of knowledge is very important in business because success in business comes when you provide a solution for consumers.

I would also advise young entrepreneurs to look at the resources that they have nearby and make something out of them.

Don’t be intimidated by what the others are doing and more especially don’t be afraid of competition because competition is good and usually competition comes when you are on the path of success.

Last of all I would encourage young entrepreneurs to push onwards. For me, business gave me a sense of identity.”

(Courtesy of Milena Veselinovic and Marc Hoeferlin: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/11/africa/uburanga-skincare-rwanda/index.html)
(http://www.educat.dk/pe/an-interview-with-rwandas-entrepreneurial-superstar-cephas-nshimyumuremyi/)

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Visa Denied! How A Broken Dream Triggered This Young Kenyan Entrepreneur.

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“I’ve ventured into a field that is known to be male-dominated…but the reality is that technology is for everyone.”

In 2013, Martha Chumo, a 19-year-old self-taught programmer, was supposed to be in New York, honing her coding skills and mastering cutting-edge technologies in the company of fellow software enthusiasts. Instead, she’s thousands of miles away, in her hometown of Nairobi, Kenya.

A few months ago, Chumo was accepted into the summer intake of Hacker School, a U.S.-based “retreat for hackers,” where budding programmers come together for three months to write code, learn new languages and share industry insights.

Whereas the programming boot camp was free to attend, Chumo still needed to cover her trip costs and buy a new laptop. Excited and determined, the young developer turned to online crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo for funds. She aimed for $4,200 and managed to raise nearly $5,800.

All she needed then was a visa to travel to the United States.

Alas, this was not to be. As an unmarried adult who was not enrolled at university, Chumo was not eligible for a U.S. tourist visa because she couldn’t show sufficient “social ties” to Kenya to prove that she was planning to return home after attending Hacker School.

“I was so frustrated because I had applied to go to Hacker School; I got into it, I raised funds to go there, I had all these plans to read and learn for three months and then I’m not allowed to go — that’s how the idea for the school was born.”

“I thought if I can’t go to the hacker school, let me try to bring the school to me,” says Chumo. “(Let me see) what can I do to start a school here.”

Within minutes of her second visa request denial, on June 4, 2013, Chumo was calling her friends to announce that, “I’m starting a hacker school in Kenya!”

A few days later, she launched another Indiegogo campaign asking people to help her set up her own school for developers in Nairobi. She made a video using her mobile phone and convinced people to buy into her idea and she eventually raised an additional $15,000. In the same year, she established Nairobi Dev School.

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It’s all a big change for this bright youngster who didn’t even own a computer until a year ago, let alone know how to write Python web frameworks and Ruby gems.

A top pupil at her school, Chumo was planning to study medicine at the University of Nairobi. Then she “bumped” into the tech world previous summer during an internship that enabled her to access a computer on a daily basis.

This triggered a deep desire in her to learn everything about this exciting new world. Chumo quit her internship, took her savings and bought a laptop. She gave up her scholarship to study medicine and started working with other programmers on open source software and got a job as a developer. Her passion to become better led her to apply to Hacker School.

In a recent interview, now 21-year-old Chumo, explains how she hopes to teach children in rural Kenya how to write code, and break the myth of technology being too difficult for young people to develop skills in.

“Our goal is to equip young people with software development skills they can use to solve challenges around them. We talk about technology a lot in Kenya, but what does it really mean for education, healthcare and farming? We want to make technology relevant to us.

I have found when someone is learning something to get a job, they are motivated to do the minimum required because their aim is a job, not to transform the world. But I like the energy and naivety of young people. At age 14 they have nothing to lose, their parents are giving them pocket money and they have time. They can throw in as much creativity and take risks.

I got into technology right after high school and learned a lot on my own. So I really want to teach children. Next month we will begin training teachers in a number of rural schools that have computer labs. The myth is technology is too hard and is a reserve only for geeks. But I see it as a skill like music, art or drama any child can acquire with training and creativity.”

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“Looking back, I’m happy my US visa was denied because it made me do something at home.”

(Courtesy of Teo Kermeliotis: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/17/tech/teenager-hacker-school-africa-google/)
(Anya Kamenetz: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682324/this-19-year-old-self-taught-developer-will-not-be-stopped)

Chumo’s Indiegogo fund raising pages:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/becoming-a-better-programmer
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nairobi-dev-school

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The Somali Woman Who’s Become A Global Star on Instagram

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“When I go out, I try to look for beauty within the ruin.”

Somali Instagram star Ugaaso Abukar Boocow is making headlines with her irreverent take on life in the country. The self-styled comedienne posts videos and photos of daily life in Mogadishu, countering negative stereotypes that the country is plagued by violence.

With 42,000 followers on the social media site (Instagram: ugaasadda), Ugaaso is making waves with her visual commentary and spoke to the BBC on her endeavors.

“Starting out, I did not have a mission and I just wanted to make my friends laugh but now my mission might be just to show that Mogadishu is just as normal as anywhere else in the world.”

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“I think a lot of people fret over coming to certain African countries that have experienced war.”

When war broke out in Somalia in 1991, Ugaaso fled to Canada with her grandparents and only returned to Somalia – and her mother – in 2014.

When asked if her Instagram feed only represented the lives of Mogadishu’s privileged society, she responded in the negative. “I don’t feel privileged at all. A lot of us who came to Somalia are here because we want to be here, not because we live lavishly.”

“I’m actually putting myself at risk every time I leave the house, knowing that there is a sniper on somebody’s roof,” she countered.

Has she faced any other stumbling blocks? Ugaaso said the attitude held by some toward women has been a problem.

“The biggest issue is that women will tell you that you can’t do certain things because you are a woman. It gives me the utmost pleasure to prove them otherwise.”

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(Courtesy of Neil Meads: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31462954)

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“I Used to Hijack Cars but I Decided to Change to My Life.”

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Siya, 23, spent more than two years in jail after being found guilty of hijacking a car with this friends in Durban. Today, he stands on a pier in Durban’s North Beach, carefully adding bait to a fishing rod and put his past firmly behind him. He told us his story.

Me and my friends, we used to steal. We used to hijack cars. We did it twice, and then the third time we got caught and we went to jail.

We hijacked the easy cars, like Polos and Golfs. They are fast, and easy to sell. We used the money to buy drinks, clothes, food for the house. The cars used to sell immediately.

I was 20 at the time. I spent two years in jail before I got out on parole.

Jail was hard and to survive there, you have to be rough. I got stabbed in jail. It was there that I actually learned to be a criminal. It is the only way to survive.

But when I came out, I knew I didn’t want to go back.

I thought I would come to town. Everything moves fast here. If I want to go to a club, I can go. I came here because I thought I could get a fresh start. No one knows me here, so I thought I could try to change. But then I started stealing again from shops and getting involved in crime.

So I came this side, to North Beach, and then I saw people fishing here. And I spoke to Uncle Waxy – one of the Indian uncles who fishes here – and he said I must stay here, and stay out of trouble, and they will teach me how to fish.

It has been three months that I’m here. The uncles looks after me. One uncle today brought coffee, and Chelsea buns to eat. They always bring food to share.

I go home once a week to get some clothes. But I have a bag and I stay here on the pier, every night. People start fishing in the night till early morning. Usually I catch like two, three or four fish every day. I am not such a good fisherman yet, and the others catch more. Sometimes, they pay me to go sell some of their fish in the parking lot.

I catch blacktails, pinkies and shad. We are not supposed to catch shad because it is out of season now.

I can make up to R150 a day. Not every day. Sometimes it can be like R40, but it’s never nothing. Sometimes the weather can be really bad, but there is always something. I get the money and I buy bread, something to eat.

I had a lot of bad luck in my life. I had problems at home. My father died. You know what he died from.

My advice to other young people is that even if you have problems, finish school.

My grandmother told me not to leave school and not to join the wrong people. But I left school in grade 10.

I go visit her when I can, but not all the time, because KwaMashu is not safe for me.

Money is a problem. If you get too used to it as a young person, it becomes a problem. See, I left school and then I started getting money, and then I wanted more. That’s where the trouble starts.

I’m trying to change my luck. This is why I came here. I made mistakes. But I will be all right.

(Courtesy of The Daily Vox: http://www.thedailyvox.co.za/i-used-to-hijack-cars-but-i-decided-to-change-to-my-life/)

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How A Sudanese Refugee Became An Indomitable Model

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Africa has some amazing talented people whether its fashion, music or art we have it. I want to see more, hear more. I want us to support each other and empower each other. I want parents/families to support their children with their dreams. We are very blessed, we are rich, I want us to be able to share our talents with the world!

There isn’t any stopping Mari Malek. Though she has experienced environments that few of us ever will, she is not a victim but a storm of resilience and empowerment. At five, Mari, with her mom and two sisters, escaped to Egypt from her home country, Sudan, which was in the midst of their second civil war. There, while her mother tirelessly worked, Mari raised her two sisters and battled the grown Egyptians who spit and threw things at them due to their dark skin.

Having survived so much loss and so much hatred, she eventually emigrated to Newark, New Jersey, living in a low-income housing complex filled with drugs, violence, prostitutes, and other problems that made the transition feel “even scarier than our home in Sudan.” After locating family in San Diego, Malek went to school in California and had a child at age 20. She eventually was asked to model and, on a whim, moved to New York to pursue fashion. There, Mari wasn’t about to stand idle while the fashion industry ripped off her truth. “Every Sudanese girl has to look like Alek Wek and every black girl has to look like Chanel Iman,” Mari says. “Fuck everybody who thinks I should suppress my identity. No! I’m gonna go off. It’s time for the world to look at one another not as a black race or a white race but as a human race.”

Mari is a rarity in her field for her humanitarian work in Sudan. As the co-founder of Southern Sudan Initiative, Inc. (a non-profit organization that simultaneously informs people about Sudan’s genocide and helps victims of it), Malek used her fame as a platform to bring light to an often ignored plight. In fact, the Sudanese transplant is widely respected for her charity work with Sudan’s “Lost boys” and “Lost girls.”

If you are starving and you only have one piece of bread, you share it with others. That’s just how it is and I think that is where my interest of philanthropy work comes from.

In an interview last year, when asked her opinions on the future of Sudan, she replied, “I am very optimistic about the future of South Sudan. I believe in us. I believe we can rise above this. Sometimes it takes for things to fall apart so things can come back together. At some point we are all going to have to step back and look beyond our egos to fix this never-ending violence and negativity. ”

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(Courtesy of StyleLikeU: http://stylelikeu.com/the-whats-underneath-project-2/one-woman-modeling-agency-standing-identity/

(Sabrinah Boasman: http://www.letagemagazine.com/bio-mixd-mari-malek-model-citizen/)

(Zach Sokol: http://www.vice.com/read/their-side-of-the-south-sudan-story-mari-malek-refugee-turned-supermodel)

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Video Fails to Kill The Radio Star: How to Build A Media Empire, Malawian Style

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“[Radio] is a very powerful tool that can change people’s lives. It’s a voice, loaded with information. It’s a voice with content that can be used effectively to change how people think, to change [the] attitudes of the people, to change so many things.”

Gospel Kazako knows that sometimes it’s best to follow the light.

The eldest of eight children, the Malawian entrepreneur had a typical upbringing in the southern town of Zomba. One night, sitting out on his parents’ veranda, he spotted a mysterious light flashing atop nearby Mount Mpigi. He asked someone about it, who told him it was a radio transmitter. “I got very fascinated,” Kazako recalls. A lifetime obsession was instantly born, setting the young boy on a path that would see him transmitting to millions of people every day and eventually becoming a major media mogul.

High school and a diploma in journalism later and Kazako found employment at Malawian state radio MBC. There, he produced a variety of shows but after seven years he left to set up his own company, and later on he successfully expanded into television.

Perseverance is key. Denied a radio license three times, he eventually set up what would become the biggest private radio station in Malawi.
Perseverance is key. Denied a radio license three times, he eventually set up what would become the biggest private radio station in Malawi.

Below is an excerpt from his recent interview with CNN.

Start small but always think big. “We started very, very simple, with very, very simple gadgets,” Kazako explains. “When people [came to] the studios they were fascinated. ‘Are you broadcasting to the whole country using these simple gadgets?’ I said yes.”

“We continued, struggling, expanding. We started with five transmitting sites… now we have I think over 34-35 transmitting sites across the country.”

After nine years in radio Kazako wanted a new challenge and decided to expand into television.

“Realizing the dream of running or owning a television station [was] a very, very difficult journey,” he says. “The day we switched on the television… expecting that every moment, any second, we’re going to see a Zodiak signal… I don’t know how to describe it… it was a very, very emotional moment.”

Businesses should be ethical. Gospel says Kodiak’s mission was always clear. “From the onset we told ourselves that we are going to be a radio station that should be fair, balanced, ethical, professional and non-partisan. A station that was going to be one that everyone must trust.”

“I feel I have a personal responsibility as a broadcaster, as a journalist, to ensure that people are well informed. So they can make decisions about their future; decisions about their lives.”

Giving back. Gospel is now using his station to help others. In 2007 he introduced the Zodiak Girl Awards, recognizing the best female students in high schools. “I have always been a very strong believer that for us to move forward everybody must be included. And when I say everybody, this includes women. You cannot talk about human rights without women rights.” “For us to develop as a country we need to make sure that we are not leaving our women behind,” Gospel argues, “empowering our girls through education.”

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Humble beginnings should not restrict you. “I didn’t grow up with a lot of resources around me,” Kazako explains. “I know the pains of sleeping with an empty stomach… I know the pains of sleeping on a railway line without a blanket… I know the pains of almost having nothing.”

Speaking of the media empire he has built, Kazako is self-deprecating.

“Anybody can do this. I’m like you… Wherever you are in [your] corner of the world, you can become someone. In the very small corner that you are, take off fear and believe in your idea. Believe in your idea, work very hard, and make sure [it] is going to happen… Sometimes it can be very frustrating, sometimes you feel you are bashing a dry hard wall, sometimes people look at you like a crazy fellow, but just believe and keep on walking.”

(Courtesy of Thomas Page and Marc Hoeferlein: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/06/africa/gospel-kazako-zodiak-malawi/index.html)

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Joana Choumali Photographs The Last Generation of Scarified African People

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“Prejudices motivate me.”

Joana Choumali, the photographer from Ivory Coast wants to change opinions of people who have a wrong view on the African continent in general and her home country in specific.

“I cannot force a person to change his or her views, but I can take it to reflect, interact, draw conclusions by herself. I like the answers to my photographs to come from a person who sees my work.”

Living and working in the capital Abidjan, where she also studied at an art school and before worked as art director for an advertising agency, she is now fully focused on photography. “It allows me to express myself, talk about my country, my generation and my continent ‘from the inside’. I often speak about identity because it is a subject close to my heart; it often comes to my mind.”

Her latest photographic series ‘Hââbré, the last generation’ (Hââbré means “writing” and “scarification” in Kô language from Burkina Faso) shows portraits of the last generation of scarified people in Abidjan. The series questions identity in a contemporary Africa torn between its past and present. “Scarification is the practice of performing a superficial incision on human skin. This practice is disappearing due to pressure from religious and state authorities, changing urban practices and the introduction of clothing within tribes.”

This series of portraits leads us to question the link between past and present, and how self-image shifts depending on environment. The sometimes conflicting opinions of our witnesses illustrate the complexity of African identity today in a contemporary Africa torn between its past and its future. This ‘last generation’ of people bearing the imprint of the past on their faces went from being the norm and having a high social value to being somewhat ‘excluded’. “They are the last witnesses of an Africa of a bygone era”, Joana says. It’s a prime example of her work being imbued with sensitivity and emotion.

Even if the subject is delicate and can create discomfort around her , it does not stop Joana to keep on shooting. She works in Ivory coast as well as abroad and doesn’t questions herself about the location. “If I feel the need, I work wherever I can. I have no preference, it just depends on my subject.” She explains that more and more young Ivorians are interested in photography and the market therefore becomes more busy. “I think the first reason is a desire of expression, of recognition through this form of art. Next to that the internet allows young African photographers to access more information on photography and art in general. This definitely opens possibilities, but the access to professional equipment is still limited. Hopefully this will change in the future, to help more upcoming talent reach the audience they deserve.”

Mr. Lawal: “It is here in town that I am ‘nobody’. In the village, I am a noble; people bow down when they see my face! I am proud of that.”
Mr. Lawal: “It is here in town that I am ‘nobody’. In the village, I am a noble; people bow down when they see my face! I am proud of that.”
Ms. Djeneba: ” I used to like my scars; they were beautiful. We used to brag about them. But, now, in the city, it is definitely out of fashion.”
Ms. Djeneba: ” I used to like my scars; they were beautiful. We used to brag about them. But, now, in the city, it is definitely out of fashion.”
Ms. Martine: “When I was 10 years, I asked for them. I wanted to be like my brothers and sisters, and to show that I am courageous. “
Ms. Martine: “When I was 10 years, I asked for them. I wanted to be like my brothers and sisters, and to show that I am courageous. “
Mr. Salbre: “ I do not want this for my children. We are the last generation.”
Mr. Salbre: “ I do not want this for my children. We are the last generation.”

(Courtesy of Jorrit R Dijkstra: http://thisisafrica.me/lifestyle/joana-choumali-ivory-coast-jorrit/)

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