At the age of 12, I was afforded a rare experience that has given my life purpose since. I visited an uncle on his Cotton farm in Dassa, Benin for the summer vacation. He was my father’s younger brother, and he lived a less than modest life. I was charged to deliver t-shirts my father had purchased for him during his travels throughout Europe. He was ecstatic and elated to have the new garments and could not stop relating his thank you’s. The vacation consisted of living life as he lived it and experiencing an amazing part of my culture. We woke up at 5 am, our alarm was the literal cockcrow. Soon after getting up, breakfast was made and consisted mostly of the leftovers of the night before. Then off to the plantation, it was. Here, we cultivated or harvested cotton depending on the side of the farm we were located on. This was no easy labor, rather harsh and vicious work that demanded hours of muscle activity under an unforgiving sun. This would go on for the better part of the morning and the afternoon with just a half hours sweet relief for lunch, which consisted of beans mixed with gari (farina like substance made from cassava). This meal was said to give you energy and support for your muscles. It wasn’t but years later that I understood what that meant and learned that beans contain protein which builds muscles and helps burn stored fat turning it into energy. But I digress. My days went on in the same fashion, with body aches and blistered hands for an entire month. It wasn’t until a few days before the end of my “magical” vacation, that I started asking questions that troubled my young mind the entire time. So I asked my uncle, how come if you work so hard, you live in a hut made of clay, and most days you can barely afford to make hands meet? Do you not sell the cotton harvested from the farm? Did you always want to be a farmer? Why not follow in your brother’s footsteps and get into public affairs? All great questions, or so I thought until I provided answers and I became even more confused.
African life is less than ideal for the multitude, and it is not because they are lazy, and it is not because they don’t contribute to the world’s economy. In fact, they contribute more so than the average westerner. The major difference here is that in the west, you are paid a fair wage for your labor. My uncle produced the cotton that made the t-shirts, he so loved and appreciated, yet he barely received 1 cent on the dollar for his hard work. And while the tides are shifting, like the slow hands of time, we find ourselves reliving these realities. We are now part of a global economy, one that sways us left and right without so much of our say so. Our kids will continue in this global economy and will fight for the same jobs that western kids will fight for. Are we really affording them a fair chance of success? American and European kids are introduced to computers at an early age. By the second grade, computers are easily accessible to every child. This endeavor was so important that President Obama’s administration launched the STEM campaign, ensuring a one per student environment for most schools.
Every African elect president sings the same chant, “every kid will have a computer on their laps during my presidency”. They do this because they know the urgency of the matter. They do this because they know there is a need and a demand. But once on the job, they fail at this promise or they fail at the know-how.
It is high time, we challenge the status quo and start by providing our next generation with a seat at the decision table. Itinere Cloud and Tzedakah are here to meet that challenge and face it head-on. Utilizing proven technology currently being used in the US, Canada, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland, and an approach that is designed to disrupt the current way of things to make way for a better path.
An African Utopia where citizens have meaningful lives, and countries can participate in the global economy.
To bridge the gap between technology and culture to create effective global citizens.
Our Business Philosophy
We set out with the certainty that a Utopian and unified Africa is a possibility with the language of business and we work under the ideals that the best way to get there is by inserting technology in African lives in a more profound way, at an early age. We operate under the principles of openness, continuous innovation, and caution. Here, diversity is not just a word, everyone’s point of view is considered and accepted.
“You can make money without doing evil” is a Google true moto, one that we model and adapt. We are cautious to not invest beyond our means, yet we devote all that we can to tackle the radical problems that the African continent faces together through 10X thinking.
Success for us will be measured by the number of lives we touch and change, and we will work to always strive for our perfect ideals. This will be a long and arduous journey, but one that must be taken. While the usual shareholder profitability will be front of mind, we believe that in the infinite game of life, a larger and far enriching ideal is essential.
Our products and services are marketed mainly to education K to 12, higher education, and small businesses. It is within this niche target market that we make the most immediate difference.
Our Reason for Being
Itinere Cloud and Tzedakah were founded with a rebellious spirit and a proud objective to offer a better way of life to many people via better and more rounded education while leading the way as a socially-conscious business and creating opportunity. We are uniquely placed to solve these problems:
Most African countries continue to utilize curriculums provided them by their colonizers, even 50 to 60 years after their independence. These curriculums are outdated and the providers have since iterated their versions and evolved it to meet the needs of today.
Africans take particular pride in their education and it is not uncommon that parents will sacrifice all they have to enable a child of their choosing to succeed through education according to their definition of the word. This definition of the word success is ever so restrictive and does not give room for the scholars to think outside the box and fathom the idea of shaping the world around them.
The African education system still mostly focuses on teaching students how to pass exams, with no clear objective to the types of citizens they want to create for their countries, their continent or the world.
Plagued by poor politics, a regressive mindset, and the detrimental words: “This is how we have always done it”, it is hard to implement any real change at the public sector level, and many otherwise talented students find themselves at the mercy of a cyclical system that only caters to the needs of selected few.
Researchers estimate that 60% of the jobs that students in school today will have in the future do not exist yet. Consider Uber, Airbnb, just to name a few. Entities that employ a lot of people today with a new type of business model yet did not exist 5 or 10 years ago. So how do we prepare students for their future careers when we don’t even know what those careers will be? Let’s start with the not so distant future. By 2020, 50% of classroom activity will take place online.
The result of all these problems is that we have a number of recent, and past graduates, with diplomas in hand that just do not have the necessary skills to function, let alone add value in their designated role. This must be remedied if we want to lead Africa forward.
In early 2018, the Economist Group, the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs surveyed and spoke with teachers, students, and business leaders across the world to gather perspectives on the following questions: “what are the skills of the future?” and “how does technology fit in?” Their report was most interesting. When asked to pick the top three skills currently needed in the workplace, they responded with: Problem Solving, Team-working, and Communications. See appendix A for a complete view. Technology will always be evolving, the type of work done by people will continue to shift, but research shows that the demand for these top skills will remain constant.
Our activities to date
We started activities in 2017, both in Accra, Ghana, and Abuja, Nigeria. We had our first education summit in 2018 (www.itinerecloud.events), recap here. Since then we have hosted an additional education summit, and have worked with 26 schools (18 in Accra, and 8 in Abuja).
We have gifted 370 Chromebooks, and sold 345 Chromebooks, with thousands more in the pipeline.
We have gifted 15 Google expedition kits (set of 30) and sold 3, with 12 more in the pipeline.
We have gifted 7 robotics kits, and sold 12, with several more kits in the scoping stage.
We have installed and rebuilt 16 school’s mesh networks to improve their bandwidth and capacity.
We have also held 49 professional development sessions for both teachers and students. We partner with schools such as Ghana International School, Faith Montessori, and Beacon International. We work with them through their transformation until we know they are enabling their students to acquire the necessary skills of collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
We started manufacturing cardboard-based VR headsets for Google Expedition Kits. We are building simple learning enablement tools to aid visual learners grasp concepts otherwise dimensionally missed.
- Requested by many schools, we started working on a school management software call iC Manage. This Saas offering with a platform access fee will alleviate a great deal of pain points schools express.
- In order to prepare the workforce that we are working to enable with entrepreneurial aspirations, we are building an app called: MentorMe. This Paas offering is a programmatic approach to fix an old problem that has plagued anyone with a desire to become more – Let us know if you would like to know more.
- We make use of free online education resources such as Khan Academy, Common Sense education, etc…. We recommend substitutions to the traditional approach of learning. We ensure our recommendations cater to all the 4 types of learners, according to the VARK model (Visual, Auditory, Reading and Writing and kinesthetic).
- We have natively built a number of ISTE recognized curriculum in partnership with Woz ED name Career Pathways. This curriculum comes inclusive of a STEAMCART that contains all the necessary tools and concepts needed for an unfolding of the classroom. The K-12 Career Pathways include four levels of extracurricular engagements in Coding, Engineering Design Process, Drone, Cybersecurity, Mobile Development, Data Science, Animation, and Artificial Intelligence.
- We introduced the Be Internet Awesome curriculum designed to educate students on the intricacies of the online world, and shape students to be great digital citizens as we expose them to newer environments online.
- Currently in design is a Financial Literacy curriculum, and a Well-Being guideline.
We have an album that represents a collection of a few of our activities during our journey thus far.