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Innovate Salone: Creating Innovation From Within Africa

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“If you give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

There is no truer representation of this adage than the story of Kelvin Doe.

David Sengeh, PhD student at MIT’s Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has set out to foster growth and innovation in Sierra Leone through his organization Innovate Salone. He says, “For many years Sierra Leone, and many other African countries, received aid but it does not necessarily get us anywhere. We are not looking into the future. We’re not designing our own future. Unless we have a host of young people who can think, at any given point, that here’s a challenge, here is a problem, there’s an opportunity to solve it, there won’t be a steep growth in national development.”

Innovate Salone invites kids from across the country to invent solutions to problems in their everyday lives. Kelvin Doe is one teen trying to create a better future for his family and his country. Kelvin proposed a community radio station to enable discussion and the spread of information in the community. Out of over 300 submissions to the competition, Kelvin was selected as a finalist and was invited to come to MIT as their youngest visiting practitioner ever.

Kelvin has built his own battery to power his house and a generator to power his radio station, all out of parts scrounged from the trash. He has built generators for his neighbors to power their lights and charge their cell phones. His radio station has a following, people text-in to the show and Kelvin reads their texts on-air. He also has several correspondents who cover various community events. His story is inspirational and David hopes, through Innovate Salone, to encourage more kids in Sierra Leone to be creative and solve the problems in their communities.


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