Friday, April 27, 2012

Tech. CrowdSourcing. The Rest Of Us

Here is the article ( Ventures Africa) about how young people crowdsourced a strategy document for UNAIDS:

Imagine a crowd converging to brainstorm ideas on how to tackle an issue. Except, this crowd do not meet physically- they converge online, spread across different locations. This is what crowdsourcing is about. It is a very powerful tool used to develop fresh ideas on critical issues affecting an individual, society or an organization. Crowdsourcing is fast becoming a trend on the African continent. As Internet penetrate more rapidly on the Continent through Internet enabled mobile phones, people are becoming more aware of the power of collaboration and are embracing the culture of crowdsourcing to proffer solutions to social issues.

UNAIDS, a United Nations (UN) agency, recently announced the launch of its first ever crowdsourced strategy document in the UN history. According to the press release, over 5000 young people from 79 countries, crowdsourced the strategy recommendations through CrowdOutAIDS, an innovative youth-led policy project initiated by the agency. Majority of the participants were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Leveraging crowdsourcing technology and new media tools, the five-month project enabled young people to fully participate in the development of strategic recommendations for the UNAIDS Secretariat’s youth agenda. This was done in four phases of Connect, Share, Provide Solutions, Collective Action.

Through the process of crowdsourcing on CrowdOutAIDS, young people proposed six key recommendations for the UNAIDS Secretariat, including:
  1. Strengthen young people’s skills for effective leadership at all levels of the AIDS response;
  2. Ensure the full participation of youth in the AIDS response at country, regional, and global levels;
  3. Improve young people’s access to HIV-related information;
  4. Diversify and strengthen strategic networks between the UNAIDS Secretariat, youth networks, and other key players;
  5. Increase the UNAIDS Secretariat’s outreach to both formal and informal networks of young people; and,
  6. Increase young people’s access to financial support.

“We have worked together, using the simplest tools—each one of us in their own corner of the world—to create spaces of exchange and draft this important document in real-time, public online sessions,” said Zahra Benyahia, a CrowdOutAIDS drafting committee member.

The most visible and popular application of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia; the free collaborative online encyclopedia, which relies on volunteers all around the world and now has over 20 million articles in English in the encyclopedia,” wrote Munya Chiura of Grow VC, a global, transparent, community-based platform dedicated to entrepreneurs and investors.

While citing examples of crowdsourcing platforms on the Continent, Chiura wrote on, “In Africa, we are also seeing some innovative ways in which crowdsourciing is being utilised. In Kenya for example,Ushahidi put Africa’s crowdsourcing on the map, as its platform was effectively used to monitor the 2002 Kenya elections. In Zambia, BongoHive, the country’s first tech hub, has created an exciting user-generated online map which reflects the number of tech business incubation hubs that have been set up around Africa. Closer to home in Kubanata, a Zimbabwean human rights and civic organization leveraged crowdsourcing to gather information to map the Typhoid cases in Zimbabwe, providing critical data to assist with managing the epidemic.”

Successful crowdsourced projects like Wikipedia, Ushahidi, BongoHive, CrowdOutAIDS etc. are lighting the bulb for others to follow. To learn more about the benefits of crowdsourcing, read GrowVC’s podcast interview with Carl Esposti, founder of

The CrowdSourced Document:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back To School Hour and Thank You Oluwabusayomi!

I resumed school today, on the 4th day of resumption. And to my surprise the school was still empty. Did they postpone resumption? No. These days, students determine when school should resume- usually one or two weeks after the date the school authorities set. I am one of the students (ashamed to admit) who don't resume school on the first day of official resumption because I know our lecturers will not come to class :-). Well, not their fault. They don't come to class because they know most students are usually absent on the first-second week of resumption. It is is a ping-pong.

Anyway. My being at school today was not a waste of time. I met one of my classmates, who is also a good buddie- Oluwabusayomi. She is a prolific business writer. We spent the day curating stories for Ventures Africa.

The highlight of the day was when she brought this book, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, from her bag and wished me a happy resumption. I was like wow! thank you. I can't remember anyone ever giving me a "Happy Resumption" gift :-) Now, this semester is going to be a great one! Thank you so much lady!

I am looking forward to reviewing the book for Readers-Response Journal.

And yes, it is our final semester this year. What can be more exciting? Praise GOD!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mobile and Music: Here comes Africa's iTune-!

Spinlet’s Group CEO and Chairman, Eric Idiahi, is one of the guest speakers at the Mobile Web West Africa 2012 Conference, taking place today in Lagos Nigeria. Described as Africa’s iTunes, Spinlet is a company focused on meeting the needs of music lovers by bringing the latest music in Africa to user-friendly mobile platforms. In this interview, Mr Idiahi sheds more light on the brand “Spinlet,” its ambitious goal to maximize the mobile space and expand the music industry on the Continent. Click here to read the full interview

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Photography and The Business of Photography!

I’m always fascinated by the art of photography. I almost adore photographers- both upcoming and established ones, that know their onions. When I first saw Steeve’s art, I was really stunned. No, to say I was stunned is an understatement.

Steeve Aukingso Photography as a brand might not ring a bell just yet, but I am happy to announce that this young man knows how to play his cards well, because he sees the field of photography as a business not just for pleasure. Read what he means in this short interview on Ventures Africa >> Photography is a Serious Business: Interview with Steeve Aukingso.

Samples of his art are also available on there!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Desert Flower: Interview with Waris Dirie

If you have seen the movie, Desert Flower, then you are probably already familiar with Waris Dirie’s remarkable story. A former super model, now an author and activist, Waris Darie was born in Gallacaio desert, Somalia, in 1965. She rose from a subservient state, at age thirteen, when she escaped a forced marriage to a 60-year-old man.

After fleeing, she lived in Mogadishu for a while before moving to London, further away from home. She made a living serving as a housemaid and doing other menial jobs. It was during this time that she was spotted by Terence Donovan, a British fashion photographer. She posed for a few photography shots with Donovan, and rose to become one of the world’s most celebrated super models, working with different high profile designers and labels. Patricia Turnier of writes,

Waris Dirie worked for these brands: André Courrèges, Chanel ‘Allure’ fragrance, Express Jeans, H&M, Levi’s, L’Oréal, Oil of Olay, Prescriptives make up, Revlon and so on. She did many fashion shows, such as “Ready to wear – Spring/Summer 1996 (John Galliano, Ralph Lauren”, “Ready to wear – Autumn/Winter 2000 (Xuly Bet)”. She did the cover of the 1987 Pirelli calendar. She also appeared in prominent magazines like Elle, Glamour, Vogue andMarie Claire.

Waris, which means desert flower in Somali, says of her modelling career “it was not my dream come true…it all just happened.” She did not allow the experience fade away as a fortunate stroke of serendipity. Modeling for her became a springboard to talk about her passion- Female Genital mutilation. Waris currently runs different advocacy projects through her foundation- “Desert Flower Foundation.” She has also authored several books, including Desert Flower, an autobiography, which was adapted to a movie. From being a runaway, Waris landed on the runway. The experience was not an easy feat. Nothing came off as easy as it sounds in written form. But her determination has kept her going.

Of course, not everyone who rebels against “tradition” live to tell his or her story. But for Waris, not only is she able to recount her story, she has continue to maximize every opportunity to empower and liberate others as well. In 2005, Waris became the first woman to be nominated for Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She has also received other awards including the “Woman of the Year Award” byGlamour Magazine (2000), the “Africa Award” of the German government (1999), as well as the “Corinne Award” by the umbrella association of the German bookselling trade (2002).

In this interview, Waris Dirie sheds light on her life, career and projects- speaking up for African women and women everywhere. Enjoy!

Why do you describe yourself as “always a nomad”?
Waris: Because despite living in “western world” for so many years, deep down I feel that my heart belongs to desert where I grew up, and that will never ever change.

You have been speaking against FGM and officially launched your organization now called Desert Flower Foundation in 2002. What has been your most fulfilling achievement since its launch?

Waris: When I started my Foundation, few people knew about the cruel practice of FGM and its consequences. The main goal for me was to raise the worldwide awareness, so that everyone would know about this cynical child abuse.

I therefore started to raise awareness through media coverage, to lobby against FGM with political leaders and other NGO´s to make people aware of the practice. And the response has been great! Thank to these campaigns, many African and European countries adopted or strengthened law against FGM, which was an important first step and a great achievement!

But my biggest goal, the worldwide eradication of FGM, is still to be achieved!

Waris with Kofi Annan, former UN Sec-General

Why do you think some cultures resist the idea of abolishing FGM? Is it any more political than it is cultural?
Waris: I believe that FGM is first and foremost a cultural issue or at least people´s belief that FGM is part of their culture. The problem is that the practice is very deeply rooted in different societies, where it has been practiced for thousands of years. Women are only willing to undergo this terrible procedure because without it, they are considered “dirty” or impure and they will not be accepted by any man as their wife. And because women are absolutely economically dependent on their husbands or fathers, they have no other choice than to undergo the cut.

What other root factors do you think is responsible propelling the practice? What should people be addressing when advocating against such a harmful practice?
Waris: As I said, it is people´s belief that FGM is part of their culture, tradition or religion. But let me say this loud and clear: FGM has nothing to do with religion, culture or tradition. It is nothing but the most cruel form of suppressing women and the most cynical form of child abuse. But of course people justify the practice by saying that it is part of their culture or that their religion demands that they mutilate their daughters. But this is not true. No religion in the world demands FGM; in fact, FGM is the breach of the most basic rules of many, if not all religions.

First, the communities need to be educated about FGM; about its health consequences and about the often untrue and misleading beliefs they have. My mother thought that she did the best for me, because in the society she grew up all women are genitally mutilated. She thought the whole world is practicing FGM, so she did not know better. That is the reason why we cannot simply tell these people that it is wrong, or prohibited by law, but we have to explain why!

And second, women of Africa need to become independent from their fathers or husbands, they should be able to work and have their income to be able to make their own decisions about their lives and their bodies. And that is what I currently work on in my new project.

Waris at the Filmset in Djibouti with Soraja and her mother

Tell us more about the project “Together for African Women.” What are you trying to achieve through this project?
Waris: The main purpose of this Project is to empower the women of Africa in communities where FGM is practiced, to provide them with work, their own income and vocational training. I am convinced that a confident, independent woman who has her own income will not choose to mutilate her daughters just so that they can be married for money.

If you were not running Desert Flower Foundation, what else would you love to pour your energy into?

Waris: My dream has always been to have my own farm in the middle of African nature which would employ and help African girls and women.

How do you combine being a mother with your other social roles? Do you ever feel overwhelmed?
Waris: It is not easy, but I do my best to find a balance. When I´m at home, I want to spend quality time with my children and I don’t want to be disturbed. Sometimes, it´s not possible of course and when I travel because of work, I take my little boy with me. Being mother is a mission. It is the most beautiful and at the same time the most difficult thing to do.

You definitely made an incredible mark as a model, if you were going to walk the runway for the last time, whom would you like to work with (designer) and why?
Waris: It would unquestionably be one of the African designers. Africa has so much potential and can produce incredibly beautiful fabrics and fashion. It is such a shame that its potential is not used to the fullest. I sincerely hope that this will change one day

You recently described modelling industry as a very tough industry. At what point in your career did you realize it was and how did you manage to stay on top?

Waris: From the time I started, I knew that modelling is very tough industry, especially for nomad girl, who was not used to conventions of western world. But to be honest, I never tried too hard to stay on the top; because it was not my dream come true…it all just happened.

Do you consider the modelling career more fleeting than other careers? If yes, why and if no, why not?
Waris: Yes definitely, modelling was always something momentary for me; I was just waiting for the right moment to speak out about FGM. Having gained fame and attention as a model, I knew that my statement on this issue would be heard.

Talking about exit strategy, from your experience when do you think is the safest time to exit full time modelling?
Waris: I don’t think there is any “safe” time to leave the modelling world. For me personally, after all efforts I had undertaken and all catwalks I walked down, it was not so important for me anymore to keep my career going. I knew a lot of important people in the fashion world and I was able to choose job offers at that time. And then suddenly I was very excited about becoming a mother and that was the best decision I ever made in my whole life.

As an outsider looking in, what disparities do you see between older models and the next generation of top African models?
Waris: I don’t see too much of a difference between the generations of models. I think they are still the beautiful and sometimes shy African girls who want their dream of becoming a super model to come true.

Some people may describe your life and your career as an epitome of serendipity. Do you see it that way?
Waris: I do believe that everything happens for reason… that I was meant to survive everything I did so that one day I could speak out about this torture and fight for little girls out there who are not able to fight on their own!

What inspired you to write the book “Desert Flower?” Did you think it was going to receive the level of accolade it did?
Waris: I wanted to reach people through my story; I wanted them to know about the pain and suffering that thousands of girls and women have to go through every day. I did not believe in such an amazing response it received, but I was sincerely happy and thankful for it!

Waris with her family on the Premiere of the movie “Desert Flower” in Addis Ababa

How did you feel during the adaptation of the book into a movie? Has its premiere and reviews met your expectations?
Waris: It was a very emotional but fulfilling experience. It was difficult for me to see my own childhood, my own family and my life on a huge movie screen. But I agreed to making this movie because I knew that it would reach much more people than the book did, and that is exactly what happened. I was deluged with e-mails from so many people throughout the world telling me that they saw the movie and [were grateful that I made] them aware of FGM. Many of these people wanted to do something about the crime and help in any way. Making the movie was absolutely right and all the difficulties and hard work were certainly well worth it after it was said and done.

If you could change anything about your life, what will it be?
Waris: Of course it would be the day when I was mutilated as a little girl. It was the worst moment of my life, something I can never forget. No innocent little girl should go through this kind of unnecessary cruel pain.

Who is your favourite model of African descent and why?

I am not able to choose one favourite. All African models are beautiful amazing women, whether from outside or from the inside. I just wish more African girls and women could use their beauty and potential in this world.

What three things would you want the world to always remember you for?

Waris: I would like the world to remember me for my fight against FGM and for the women of Africa, and then I would like to be remembered as survivor who never gave up…as I wish the people in this world would never give up on their dreams, their hopes and their life happiness.

To learn more about the Desert Flower Foundation, please visit the official website by clicking here

Follow Waris on Twitter: @Waris_Dirie and FaceBook

Photo credit: COPYRIGHT Waris Dirie portrait by Karl Holzhauser/ Desert Flower Foundation

As reported on Ventures Africa

CrowdOutAIDS and Opportunity for a young researcher

The strategy docs, fresh from the printer!

CrowdOutAIDS Strategy is finally launching! The process of crowdsourcing a new strategy to improve the way UNAIDS secretariat engage young people in development process kicked off last year October. Between then and now, over 5,000 have been engaged online and offline.

Young people were given the space to share their views on what they think is wrong with the current system. But it did not stop there. They also provided solutions to the critical issues raised.

This coming week, CrowdOutAIDS team will launch the New Generation Leadership Strategy document in Nigeria. Actually, majority of participants in the crowdsourcing process were from Nigeria. Not only did they actively participate online, about 8 Offline Open Forums were held in different parts of the country.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr Michel Sidibe, and Nigerian Government representative, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi (Minister for Youth Development) will be present to receive the document from the youth representative- Gabrial and Wemimo.

The event will be held in a local community- grassroots involvement is key. Not the usual fancy-hotel conference rooms. Talk about walking the talk already!

If we want to really better engage young people in development process, then we have to first start by creating a level playing field. Close the yawning gap between elite youth and those at the grassroots. Also involve young people all through the process of creating programmes that concern them. These are new principles the new strategy is bringing into focus.

I hope the UNAIDS will embrace the document whole heartedly and ensure local organizations and government institutions imbibe the principles to improve youth engagement.

Meanwhile, as the process wraps up, there is an opportunity for a young researcher at CrowdOutAIDS! If interested, click here to read the TOR.

It is an honor to have served as the Blog Editor and Online Curator for this project. The team, from the lead @MikaHild to the others are a very passionate and dedicated set of people! I totally enjoyed working on this project with them. It has been an interesting process of learning, unlearning and growing.

It is not over yet! We'll keep working for a positive change!

Release Ali @alifakh Fakhry NOW!!! @Najib_Mikati @UNESCONow #Lebanon

Friends! Freedom of expression is drowning in Lebanon! I worked with Ali Latifa Fakhry during the last UNESCO Youth forum. I just learned he has been arrested for defending and protecting the rights of domestic workers.... You and I must do something to ensure that Ali and other young activists are released!!

You don't have to travel to Lebanon to take action. You can start by sending emails to, fax the Prime Minister office in the Sarai on 01983065, also tweet publicly to @Najib_Mikati requesting the immediate release of Ali and Khodor.

Click the link for more info on how freedom of expression is drowning in Lebanon: 

But please don't forget to email and tweet demanding for Ali's release! Merci!!

Read about Ali on 10 Young Journalists to Watch

Speak out! Take action NOW!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Bit Of Inspiration [The Video]

We all need a bit of inspiration every now and then. It could be something, a word or someone who re-ignites our passion and faith... or it could be by seeing the progress of others. Yes, these are all good sources of inspiration.

September last year, I interviewed Malik Afegbua the twenty-five years old founder of Slick-City Apparel. It is interesting to learn about this new video that showcases the Slick City collection:

Inspired and eager to launch your idea or brand? Malik says:
"If you are passionate about something, just believe and be focused because people could only limit you for sometime but nobody can stop your shine when your time is right."

But still wondering what to make of what life is throwing your way right now? Don't ponder for two long if you already know that the responsibility lies on you to make the decision that will alter your life for good. Well, here is Ayo Owodunni, giving a toastmaster speech on "DECISION":

In life sometimes,  you don’t need to focus on what place you come in or what you’re ranked. You just need to run the race with your heart. If you give your best, you’ll be your best.”

Click here for "A Bit of Inspiration."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Youth. Entrepreneurship. Everywhere.

Youth everywhere, young people in Nigeria are embracing entrepreneurship. From tech innovations to petty trading, using their skills and maximizing opportunities around them- one man's need is another man's business.

Women are not left out. Ren, my friend says in Nigeria there is a high rate of feminism. Maybe it is growing. But, truth is, gone are the days when women will sit at home and wait for the men to bring back daily bread. That ended with our grandfathers, or maybe their fathers' generation. In our time, mum work too.

Children are not left alone. In impoverished homes, kids take to the street to hawk goods to support their parents. Okay this is not right. Children should be children. They should not worry about making a living. Adults are responsible for securing their future.  This population should not make up labour force.

The government leaders, of course, hold a major stake in addressing most social problems. But then, where are they?

Beyond all the unemployment statistics, young people everywhere can take responsibility in securing their future by choosing innovation over pounding the pavement. If they decide to go for full time employment instead, that is a different story entirely.

Image via investireoggi

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Call for Volunteers! Exciting Opportunity for youth in Lagos!

PEER Group Initiative ’ll like to invite you to participate in their forthcoming event scheduled to hold on April 28, 2012.

The event is themed "Kick-Out Malaria" and is planned to commemorate World Anti-Malaria Day (April 25, 2012). It will hold within Shomolu Local Government Area, Lagos.

The Kick-Out Malaria project will be implemented that day in three stages:
  1. Clean up exercise
  2.  Free Medical care for residents (basically on anti-malaria)
  3. and issuing of between 1,000 - 1,500 Free anti malaria nets also to residents.

“We would like to call for volunteers to participate in the Clean-Up exercise. The clean-up exercise involves cleaning of very dirty streets and the canal that demarcates Bariga and Shomolu local government Areas.”

The project is sponsored in stages by PEER Group Initiative, LAWMA, Exxon Mobil, Institute of Social Workers of Nigeria, Shomolu Local Government Area, Health Matters Incorporated, Adesola Clinic and a host of other youth organizations.

Volunteers will be highly needed. Interested volunteers can send their details to or reach Salu Adepeju on 08056045500.

This project is for a good cause. The clean up exercise will help reduce the flooding witnessed in Lagos recently and reduce malaria incidences in the Local Government Area to the bearest minimum.

Don’t miss out! 

Going into unfamiliar territory will not destroy your old, comfortable world. Rather, it will expand your world, your vision, your knowledge and your possibilities. The next time you come across a road that you've never traveled -- whether it is an idea, a person, a belief system, or an actual road -- take a side trip and make your world a bigger, more interesting place.

Monday, April 09, 2012 (@appsbidder) Launch Contest! Cash Prizes to be won!

Hey! My friend, the founder of, is holding a competition to spread awareness about a site he and his team have worked hard on…He is giving out guaranteed cash prizes to people who can signup and share the site with friends, which will take only two clicks of your mouse. I hope you guys find this information appealing! Please sign up here:,221604081280322,144864988974422 is introducing a platform where users can collaborate with developers to implement app ideas and suggest billing system. Besides rewarding app downloads, the site also rewards social engagement and gives out monthly prizes.
Check out their Facebook page, like the page and watch the videos to see what people are saying:

Contest rules

Sign into appsbidder with Facebook: 

While you are logged into Facebook, go to's home page at the top right corner and access the "login" drop down: click sign in with Facebook, and you will get a Facebook box to refer 50 of your friends, please refer all of them by checking all check boxes. 

You can also improve increase your chances as one of the cash winners by:

Liking their Facebook page: 50 pointsDownloading apps, 5, 10 + pointsSharing those app downloads on FB + 5points

WHY SHOULD YOU SIGN UP, aside the money incentive?
That is a good question! Signing up on APPSBIDDER will earn you points for discounts, free software downloads in the market place and of course help us spread the word...If you use MACs, PCs or mobile phones you can always get software from AppsBidder- especially those you can't find elsewhere!

Help Spread the word on FaceBook and Twitter!

Tweet:  "@appsbidder is giving out guaranteed cash! Click here: to learn more"

WATCH VIDEO Explaining the Contest:

WATCH VIDEO Explaining the MarketPlace:

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Writing like a child stringing beads in kindergarten -

If you are writing and you find yourself sweating and panting all over, I don't know what that is. Writing ought to be a very pleasurable exercise. Just as Brenda Ueland says:
 "I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another."  

MING! eeerrrr Why black women don't go for "yellow" men :-)

Excited! After what seems like ages, MING's special edition on Lagos is coming out! No, it is out!! Wooot!! Ren put a lot of work into that story. And I enjoyed contributing! Ola was the official photographer! Yes, I am still waiting for him to invite me to model for him o... Free photoshoot :-)

Anyway, back to MING (a magazine based in Hong kong),  the focus of the feature was LAGOS... mega city, Eko Atlantic city, Lagosians (people of Lagos), young business men and women etc. Ignore the title of this post- I culled it from Ren's blog post.

You can read Ren's blog entry after her trip to Lagos by clicking here.
We all knew it. Africa. Africans. The struggling history of slavery, the “next-day-may-never–come” living attitude. The ground-shaking, impoverished scene that charity campaign photos embark. The worst tags are all on this piece of land, and we are no short of hearsay. But what and how on earth is Africa? Who on earth are Africans? How does this piece of continent differ from ours?

And as a follow up she writes:


Finally here. I have been waiting, but now I don’t want to read it at all.
It just reminds me too much of that trip very much unlike all others.
Not that it’s special, the whole experience was just completely beyond my expectation.
How undeveloped the place is but how high the spirits of the people are.
How absurdities are twisted to make sense there.
The only time I bought nothing back home at all.
But in the end – I have high admiration for Lagosian women.
Their spirit was a huge lesson to me.
Feminism is well manifested there.
Now I get the answer of why there are so many black men
with Asian women in Hong Kong, but rarely black women with yellow men.
After all, your life depends on no one but on yourself, so does your homeland....

I never really gave it a thought. Black women don't go for "yellow men" (or white men)? :-)

Anyway, I'm uber-EXCITED to read my article in CHINESE!!

I will let you know when I start taking classes in chinese- until then, keep following my work on VENTURES AFRICA. Peace!