26 February 2013

Africa: Ugandan Student Wins Africa IT Award

When Titus Mawano was in senior three, 7 years ago, his parents transferred him to Greensteads International School in Kenya, because the teachers in his Ugandan school had written him off.

They constantly told him that he was a failure and that he was wasting his parents' school fees.

They repeatedly told his parents that he was arrogant and rebellious. They had failed to contain his confidence.

Fast forward to 2013: On Wednesday February 20 2013, the BBC flew Titus from Nairobi, where he was attending a conference, to interview him at the BBC offices, and back to Nairobi to complete his conference. The interview was broadcast live on BBC Newsday at 6:30 C.A.T. on Wednesday.

Titus had beaten 300 other contestants in Africa to the World Bank sponsored Apps For Africa competition thanks to his Ffene.com innovation, which helps businesses consolidate all their financial tasks in one affordable application.

The competition was aimed at discovering Africa's 3 best App innovators in order to invest in them and expose them to a bigger platform. His Ffene app emerged winner, followed by Prowork app from Nigeria and Slice app from Ghana. He earned himself US$ 10,000 as well as connection to some of the world's most respected businessmen for mentorship and financial consultancy.

Titus' story is one of faith and self belief. The 22-year-old, dreadlocked millionaire was admitted to Virginia Tech University in the United States to study aeronautic engineering three years ago.

He suddenly changed his course to software programming less than a year later and before another year elapsed, he announced to his parents that he was going to take a break from studying and was going to return to Uganda to develop his new business idea.

His argument was that the app he was planning to develop, was needed at that specific time and if he waited until he had graduated, the idea would no longer be relevant.

However, he promised that he would return to school later and he also made a rare bold statement. He told them that by the time he returned to school, he would be in position to pay his own tuition and accommodation at the same prestigious university he had walked out of.

He says that people ridiculed him behind his back, and some directly, dismissing him as a dreamer that thought he could emulate Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, who all dropped out of university to start successful computer-related companies.

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