Image credit: FB page of Uchenna Onwuamaegbu Ugwu. #TeamSaveASoul getting ready for Silicon Valley.

Pause: This is the potential of the #AfricanGirlChild…

__#1 in the world!

There is a Chinese proverb that says: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” To that I would add, if you are planning for lasting change in this world, educate girls!

A few days ago I was so thrilled to hear that five Nigerian girls from Regina Pacis Model Secondary School (Onitsha, Anambra State) won the 2018 Technovation World Pitch competition in Silicon Valley, California. Need I say more? Wow…

The young winners (ages 12-14), competing in a team they named “Save a Soul,” were: Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye. Their team came out on top of 12 finalists (chosen from about 2,000 teams from 115 countries) who were invited to travel to California this month, eventually defeating other finalist teams from countries like the USA, China, Spain, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Wow!

__Per the specs of the competition, each team developed a mobile App to solve a problem they had identified in their own communities. Wow, wow, wow, again!

Huge congratulations to the #TeamSaveASoul, and their mentor, Mrs Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, founder of Edufun Technik STEM, who was invited into the school to tutor and train these young girls.

# What was the problem identified by these five young African techno-stars?

They were worried about the high number of deaths in Nigeria resulting from use of fake drugs. (Nigeria is seen to have one of the world’s largest markets for counterfeit drugs, they said).

# And their solution?

They developed the “FD-Detector” (Fake Drug Detector) mobile app which scans a barcode to help confirm that the drug is not fake, and also checks its expiration date.

Working with their mentor (with support from global sponsors like Oracle), it took the young students about five months to design this mobile App, also using coding and robotics insights, in designing their solution.

Watch one of their pitches and be inspired:

The Technovation World Pitch competition is a program of a US NGO called Iridescent that offers girls ages 10-18 in 100+ countries the opportunity not just to learn programming skills, but also to put on a #SolutionMindset and imagine ways to use technology to help change the world… (sound somewhat familiar?)

While 2018 was the first time ever that the Nigerian team made it to the junior finals (let alone win…) let me also say a belated congratulations to the Nigerian senior division girls team (ages 15-18) that took the gold in the same competition in 2015, for developing a mobile App to tackle waste disposal in Nigeria. Wow!

I am sure you will be interested to know that this year’s senior division Technovation competition was won by a team from India who developed an App to track and dispose of electronic waste by linking recyclers with e-waste producers. Congratulations to them as well!

This is really amazing work, but there is so much more to be done, across our globe…

According to official estimates (UNESCO) there are about 130 million girls in the world (ages 6-17) who are out of school. Of those, 15 million are of primary school age. They estimate that half of that number in sub-Saharan Africa will never enter a classroom…

Could this be true in this day and age?

The Proprietor of the amazing Regina Pacis Model Secondary School — a school I would respectfully love to visit just as soon as my schedule allows — is the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, the Most Rev Valerian Okeke. He has remarked that “no sacrifice is too much in educating our children.”

I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to visiting as soon as possible!

Meanwhile my congratulations once again to #TeamSaveASoul, mentor Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu and her team, and everyone in Nigeria church, government and civil society who helped play a part in this victory last week as well as the international sponsors of this inspiring prize. If you want to find out more go to

What can we learn from this global victory for Africa? Let’s talk.

I want to write a series about inspiring schools and technology hubs around the continent.



by 19 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

19 thoughts on “Pause: This is the potential of the #AfricanGirlChild…

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship,” said Greek writer Aeschylus about 2500 years ago. Are you learning to sail yours? What are the greatest lessons learned so far?

    • Gerald Tapiwa Moyo

      That is what I also do which is fighting for the girl child in every inch of the earth through poetry I have wrote ‘A Sign of Change’ a poem which expresses a deep felt summary of what the world is doing to the girl child which is so depressing.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    Here’s the congratulatory tweet to Africa’s newest techno-stars from the Nigerian Vice President HE Professor Yemi Osinbajo just after their great victory for Africa in Silicon Valley:

    “These young ladies in Junior Secondary School, developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problems of fake pharmaceutical products in Nigeria. Yesterday, they won the 2018 Technovation World Pitch in California. Congratulations! We are very proud of you. Well done to Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, the founder of Edufun Technik STEM Center. I understand that she and her company were responsible for mentoring the young ladies. Great job!”

    Who is going to sign up next year?

    • Gerald Tapiwa Moyo

      Greetings Dr.
      Computer programming is yet the best field to enroll a child in from a tender age. Myself I have been learning programming through the internet yet due to mobile data depletion it has been a challenge.
      You can help others who might desire to be among the evergrowning world of coding to visit: it is completely free only your internet matters.
      Thank you for sharing the story on the Coding Champions.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Shout out to rural entrepreneurs!

    Next week I’m starting a series on entrepreneurship in rural areas, and about rural areas of Africa.
    I will be looking at, and listening to entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things in rural Africa.
    If you are one of them, I want to hear from you.
    Over 700m Africans live in Rural areas. Entrepreneurs (for profit and non profit) are working to improve lives using some highly innovative ideas.
    Let’s share these ideas and see how others are transforming rural areas.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The 5th Industrial Revolution is upon us!
    If Africa is not to miss out on this one, governments, teachers and parents need to do five things:
    #1. Every teacher at every level, must be issued with a tablet computer, as a standard job tool.
    #2. Every child at school must have a tablet computer.
    #3. Every school must have free wi-fi.
    #4. Coding and STEM must be the main subjects stressed at schools.
    #5. Entrepreneurship must be mandatory school subject for all high school and university graduates.

    # If you are a parent you must equip your child with a computer tablet. This is non-negotiable.
    If you currently pay school fees, then ask why the teachers don’t have computers, and the schools don’t have wi-fi!

    • Emeke

      Hello Mr.Strive.Thanks for this insightful write up.There is indeed hope for Africa.
      Last year,I started an organization with the mandate to train young secondary school children in my community that are not OK financially,foundational knowledge of Computer Science;this I believe,will give them a basic idea of ICT going forward.I do this by collaborating with sponsors and Professionals.Although last year didn’t come out the way we wanted it,we are planning to have another session this December in my community and hopefully,we may have sponsors.
      Thank you Sir for this platform.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Shout out to rural based entrepreneurs!

    Next week I’m starting a series on entrepreneurship in rural areas. I will be looking at, and listening to entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things in rural Africa.
    If you are one of them, I want to hear from you.
    Over 700m Africans live in Rural areas. Entrepreneurs (for profit and non profit) are working to improve lives using some highly innovative ideas.
    Let’s share these ideas and see how others are transforming rural areas.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    My answer to last week’s values quiz:

    A friend of mine who is a renowned banker in his country was attending the funeral of a close relative who had raised him up as a child.
    A young man who saw him, and realized who he was, went up to him and immediately saw it as an opportunity to pitch for a small loan that he needed desperately for his entrepreneurial venture.
    Now if you were that young man, what would you have done?
    Keep your comments brief.

    My reply,
    Wisdom dictates that this is not the right time.
    99,9% of the people I know would be offended by any attempt to secure assistance under such circumstances.

    The “right time” will come again. It always does.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    After reading this week’s post, I would like to urge you to write down 5x reasons why this story about 5 teenage girls from a Nigerian city, you probably never heard about @ReallyMatters to you personally, and also for your business.
    Many people find it difficult to ConnectTheDots on things that affect them.
    Let me have your thoughts. No prizes, because it is too important!

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    Smart people can ConnectTheDots to sometimes obscure events happening in the world.
    Many years ago a friend of mine [in SA] who is a doctor, asked me whilst he was examining me:
    “Need your advice on something:
    This problem of a US bank that just collapsed. Should I be concerned here in South Africa?”
    I replied:
    “I’m following it really closely myself. Something is not right. I am not an economist, but I see big trouble brewing globally.”
    Millions of people lost their incomes, jobs, homes…all over the world!
    People could not borrow money and businesses collapsed…all over the world!

    The other day, as I picked up the newspaper getting off a plane from Chicago. The “headlines were about Turkey’s collapsing currency. Down 40% already.”
    I thought of South Africa, and called someone:
    “The currency here is responding to Turkey. It’s down, and the stock market is following.”
    I exchanged some text messages about it with colleagues and friends [business partners, investors, bankers] Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe…as I tried to ConnectTheDots…
    Throughout the day I check news on a platform like Bloomberg, or CNBC Africa!
    If you walk into the offices of a top CEO these days, one of those channels is on somewhere close bye, so they can quickly check what is happening!
    Learn the habit now!

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Queen David writes (edited):

    Can we start by getting the child to school first? Many more children are out of school because their parents can’t afford the fees, even government schools in most places is not accessible to children. …

    My reply,
    That is where I started:
    More than 25 years ago, I sent the first child who was not my own, or a relative to school. At the time I had just a small business, and I stuck with it. Today my wife and I have sent more than 250,000 children to school who were orphans.

    As my business and stature has grown I have also used it to leverage more solutions and activities.
    For instance, I sit on the UN Commission that is trying to solve a worldwide problem where more than 60m children are not in school, of which half are in Africa.
    It would not have happened if I “had not first been faithful with the little that I had.”

    A problem is not solved by identifying what needs to be done, but by doing something yourself, no matter how small and insignificant it may look at the time. I started with one child.

    Now, here is another point:
    In life you learn to “chew gum and walk at the same time”:
    This means even as we seek for solutions in one problem area, we can also do things in other problem areas.
    Ensuring that those children that are in school are getting the best chance to work in a digital world, is also important.
    Getting every child who is not in school helped must also be done.
    …and more!

    Your key take away is not to look to someone else to solve a problem but to first ask yourself “what can I also do to help in this problem?”
    This platform has already inspired thousands of young entrepreneurs to start helping children right across Africa.
    Just follow what some like Austin has done!
    #Your turn:
    Don’t allow one more day to pass bye before you help a child get to school, even as you have identified…Now do!!

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Sofolahan writes,

    21st century education should not be left to school walls alone that’s why parents must champion the course .

    My reply,
    The key to successful education outcomes for our children is not governments, or teachers, but parents…

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Charles writes,

    Kusile Hatchery & Poultry Farm is an innovative business setup in rural part of Swaziland, by the Maguga Dam, Piggs Peak. Not only do we BREED, HATCH, GROW AND SUPPLY local farmers and families with chicks and chicken meat, we also provide hatching facilities and services to local people….hatching their eggs.

    Needless to say that the Dr. Strive posts have been our greatest influence and interest in setting up. Thank you kindly good Dr.

    For more information

    My reply,
    I love!
    Well done!
    I have an idea to supply an egg a day for every child in Africa under the age of 10 years old.
    We should talk…

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Breaking News!
    I too had a role model and I was only trying to teach you [the next generation from Africa] some of the things he taught me:
    @Kofi Anan, Africa’s peacemaker to the world.

    Thank you “Chief”.


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