What are the innovations emerging from Africa?

philmckinney | December 4, 2013

Article

Rwanda

I don’t know (yet) what innovations are emerging from Africa but as part of the Pay-It-Forward Project, we will be spending the holidays in Africa (Rwanda specifically).  We will arrive in Africa on December 14th and return to Colorado on January 3rd (just in time for CES) – with regular updates/photos posted to the blog and facebook.  Some of our friends will be enjoying the holidays in the Colorado house without us.

Why Africa?

Our friends, Faith and Roger Shaw, founded the Ishimwe Child Rescue Home in Bugesera, Rwanda.  Ishimwe means ‘Give thanks to God’ in Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda. Faith’s traumatic childhood prepared her for her role in rescuing abandoned children. First and foremost, she herself was a refugee separated from her parents after fleeing Rwanda’s first genocide. In 1994, Faith and Roger watched Rwanda’s second genocide unfold on the TV news. It was a horrifying event resulting in the murder of 800,000 people. The aftermath was heart breaking. Among many awful tragedies, thousands of children were left without anyone to care for them.

This painful reality weighed heavily on the hearts of Faith & Roger and they recalled how someone had helped Faith when she had been a child in need. They couldn’t quite reconcile their comfortable family life in California with the suffering of so many abandoned children in Rwanda.

Faith and Roger sold everything and moved to Rwanda to lead the child rescue efforts at Ishimwe.

But the story doesn’t stop there …

Rather then being 100% dependent on donations, a group of investors stepped forward to fund for-profit businesses in Rwanda and use the profits to fund Ishimwe and to invest in other entrepreneurs in Rwanda.  Lakeside Firsh Farms is the first of these businesses. Founded in 2011 with the goal of being Rwanda’s premier supplier of fresh fish, Lakeside has 24 ponds and 7 cages and hatches eggs on site from their own broodstock.  Needless to say, I’ve learned more about aquaculture than I ever thought possible.

So what will we be doing?

While my wife will be focusing her efforts on working with the kids and evaluating options to establish remote health clinics in Rwanda (leveraging her Nursing background), I will be working with Lakeside to update its multi-year strategy and meeting with other entrepreneurs who could benefit from an innovation mentor and possible investment (we’ll see how good their pitch is).

How can you help?

Help in spreading the word on the Pay-It-Forward Project would be GREATLY appreciated. Remember, 100% of the book royalties this year will be donated to charity (Hacking Autism, Ishimwe and Colorado Flood Relief).

The URL for the project is: http://philmckinney.com/pay-it-forward and the hastag is #payitfwd.

I will be posting updates from Africa to the blogfacebook and by email.  If you would like to receive the email updates, sign-up here.

Enter your email for regular updates from Africa