Can you tell us about your social enterprise work in bringing education to Kenya?
I’m a strong believer that education is one of the best ways to empower people. According to UNESCO there are 264 million children globally who have no access to basic primary or secondary schooling. Education content is freely available on the Internet and the technology to deliver this to these children also exists. All we needed to do was to put two and two together and do something about this massive global issue of lack of education. This generated the idea for Wazi.
I and fellow Southampton alumnus Dr Utsav Oza decided to launch Wazi – a technology-based platform that connects remote communities to free online education using cheap, portable technology. With Wazi, we aim to unlock children’s potential through open, free access to education.
We source the educational material, host it on a centralised cloud, and then provide remote communities with handheld, portable devices to access the content. Our long-term goal is to make the world a truly connected space by giving remote communities access to the benefits of online content, and in the process learn more about them.
How did your studies and experience at Southampton help to shape your future?
The fundamentals of engineering I learnt in class, the practical knowledge from labs and group work, and the great experience I had at my semester abroad, running virtual simulations on an engine part for Toyota, led to a summer internship at Jaguar Land Rover. Through this I secured my current job as a Graduate Engineer. I also did a placement working on the Internet of Things (IoT) and realised this technology could help bring education to the people that need it the most. It gave me the background I needed to set up Wazi.
I was also involved in student enterprise programmes and student societies that helped me develop the mind-set to face the challenges ahead.
What motivates you?
Wazi was selected from 200 applications to make it to the top five in the Enterprise Nation’s Student Start-up of the Year competition. Our project received great praise from the community and seeing the confidence that others had for our idea was really inspiring.
Knowing that the work we do is going to impact people in a positive way motivates me to continue down this amazing journey. Education is something I’m really passionate about. Getting the opportunity to go back to our communities and make sure everyone has the chance to go to school and can realise their true potential is what motivates me.
Can you tell us about the work you are doing to support the University’s International Office in Kenya?
I continue to work with the University in a variety of ways and still feel like I’m a part of the wider Southampton community.
I give talks at Open Days on my journey as a student, and I also work with the International Office in Kenya to share my experience as an engineering student. In Kenya, there isn’t much information about what engineering is, which makes it difficult for students to know what to expect when they are enrolling on an engineering programme. I hope my talks can shed some light on this, and provide them with someone they can relate to.
We’ve also been working with the University’s Social Impact Lab exploring how we can work together to make Wazi have a bigger, more sustainable impact around the globe.
Finally, what advice would you give to students starting at Southampton this year?
Try new stuff – I took up Bollywood dancing and went skydiving. You never know what you might find!
Do a semester abroad or any exchange programme – my six months in Paris were some of the best times of my life. I learnt so many new industry level tools, some of which I continue to use in my job today.
Think about student enterprise and, if you can, try to do some good and give back to the world.