Every brand; whether a business or a personality has a story, but some have more intriguing stories than others. History has established to us that certain personalities have written their names in the sands of time through sheer resilience and a can-do spirit.
What would you say if you knew that the founder of WhatsApp came from a very poor background? Well, now you know! Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp came from a very poor background, in a small village near Kyiv in Ukraine. He learned about computers when his family emigrated to California. Gained experience and in 1997, he was hired by Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer. He eventually started WhatsApp in 2009 and later sold it for $19 billion to Facebook in 2014.
What about the famous KFC? It didn’t just become a successful global brand; it is the result of the zealous Colonel Harland Sanders, who founded KFC on the 24th of September 1952, in Kentucky, USA. Prior to this, he was just a school dropout, who was saddled with the responsibility of taking care of his siblings at age six. He tried his hands on different career paths but failed. The failures never deterred him, as he started the sales of chicken dishes at age 40. He tried to franchise his restaurant after the war but got rejected 1,009 times before he got accepted. He eventually sold the company for $2 million (worth $15.3 million today).
Our Techpreneur this week, Jamme Mariamme epitomizes resilience, perseverance and a will to succeed, braving the odds all the way to the very top. Born in Dakar Senegal, her mother gave her away at a very tender age. Jamme went through hardship growing up, considering that she was raised in different foster homes and orphanages. She was also trafficked as a young prostitute to Paris. She never really had a formal education until at age 16 when she taught herself how to read and write.
These childhood experiences however did not deter Jamme. Though an autodidact, Jamme taught herself how to code seven programming languages from her local library in Surrey, England. She honed her skills and developed as a programmer, blogger, tech and education activist, who is best known for her role in promoting technology, good governance, transparency, and a better education standard in Africa.
She founded Spotone Global Solutions in March 2000, as a London based consultancy company that specializes in helping technology companies set a foothold in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The company has supported businesses like; Google, Ernst and Young, The White House, Microsoft, UN Women, Legatum Institute, HSBC Private Banking, The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown, The Africa Progress Panel chaired by Kofi Annan, Barack Obama Administration, Unilever, the Argentine Government, and multiple African governments.
Due to the hardships she passed through whilst growing up; Jamme decided to set up Jjiguene Tech Hub in 2012 in Dakar Senegal. The hub is the first women Tech Innovation Network that supports young women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Her quest for women’s empowerment, education, and freedom also pushed her to build a new company iamtheCODE in 2015.
iamtheCODE is the first African-led global movement to mobilize government, the private sector, and philanthropic foundations to advance STEAMD (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Design) Education. She aims to empower 1 million young women and girls globally to become coders by 2030. This goal will align with the UN 2030 Agenda. iamtheCODE partnered with Alibaba in February 2019 to extend its reach within Africa.
Jamme became a member of Web Foundation in 2017, in a bid to support the Foundation in gender and digital equality. She is also a select committee member and adviser for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program. She is also a council member on Microsoft 4Afrika. Contributor at the Guardian, Huffington Post, the BBC, the Africa Report and CNN.
She is an award-winning Technologist, who was named as 20 youngest powerful women in Africa by Forbes in 2012. She was also named twice as one of the 100 most influential Africans by the African Business Magazine in 2014 and in 2016. She won the Innovation Award at the Global Goals Award 2017 by UNICEF. She also won the GoalKeeper Award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for her work in advancing the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals. She is a BBC 100 Women nominee, and she was named twice on the UK Powerlist 2017 and 2018 of Britain’s 100 most influential people of African and African Caribbean Heritage.
Jamme has been a True African Amazon, despite the odds and hurdles along her journey; applauding her success is the least we can do to appreciate this rare gem. TGA recognizes greatness and celebrates Jamme today!