Impact

Since 2000, AITI has wdramatically affected the lives of its MIT participants and its African students. Some of our African students have come to the US for undergraduate or graduate studies. Others have secured jobs in multinational corporations, or started their own technology-oriented businesses. Simultaneously, our MIT student/instructors almost universally believe that AITI was the best experience of their MIT education. The student/instructors leave the program with a new perspective on the world and a new direction in life.

History and Statistics

AITI began as an ambitious idea in the minds of three Africans students who came to MIT for undergraduate studies. In the years since the first pilot program in Kenya, the organization has expanded well beyond the founders' initial expectations. Briefly:

  • AITI has sent over 100 MIT student/instructors to Africa.
  • AITI has instructed over 1200 African students in entrepreneurship and technologies appropriate to their local environment.
  • Over the years AITI has operated programs in multiple sites in five countries (Rwanda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zambia).
  • We have created a Mobile Application Development curriculum. The materials include lectures, labs, projects, and software platforms.

Businesses Founded by Students

An important goal of AITI is to promote entrepreneurship and software-predicated business development. We try to keep current with the business activities of our graduates. Here are some recent examples of technology businesses founded by AITI graduates (either during an AITI course, or post-course):

  • Hehe, Ltd.: A mobile services company founded by AITI students during our Rwanda 2010 program. Hehe, Ltd. has multiple service offerings and has been contracted by the Rwandan government. Please see this article for press coverage.
  • AfricanPixel: A mobile application company founded by Wilfred M. Mworia, a 2005 AITI graduate. The company focuses on smartphone applications.
  • M-Kulima: An SMS based service to provide rural dairy farmers with pricing information and best practices. Developed by AITI 2009 graduate Amos Gichamba.
  • Jawabu: Offers mobile services (including directions and Craiglist-like networks accessed via SMS) in Kenya. This company developed from our Kenyan course in 2009.
  • Keen Media Lab Design: A web and mobile app design firm founded by Andrew Kinai, a Kenya AITI graduate and AITI extension course instructor.
  • Equisoft Technologies: A Kenyan company that develops mobile SMS-based services companies and organizations including universities and the Kenyan gov't. Developed during the Kenya 2009 course.
  • Lily Review: e-magazine targeted to ladies in Kenya, developed and run by an AITI graduate.

Some other recent successes from AITI alumni:

  • A team from our 2010 Kenya class, iChecki, won the Base of the Summit peer award at Mobile Monday pitch competition in Helsinki, Finland. See press releases here, here, here and full coverage in the Kenya Star.
  • Susan Eve Oguya, AITI Kenya 2010, was part of the team that won 1 M Kenyan Shillings (12.4k USD) at the IPO48 contest with her M-Farm idea! See articles here, here, and here.

Transfer of Teaching Skills and Curriculum

Another important goal of AITI is to transfer teaching skills to our partner universities, to encourage extension courses, and to infuse the curriulum of our partner universities with appropriate computing technologies and entrepreneurship. Recently we have had the following outcomes:

  • AITI encourages and supports extension courses that employ our curriculum. These courses are instructed by former AITI students with the help of local professors and instructors. Often they act as feeders for our programs. Extension courses have been delivered at: JKUAT in Kenya (2009, 2010), Strathmore University in Kenya (2010, 2011), KIST in Rwanda (2010), and University of Nairobi in Kenya (2010).
  • AITI worked with Strathmore University in Kenya to develop the Strathmore / Safaricom Masters program in Telecommunication Innovation (press).

Changed Attitudes

Teaching appropriate information and communication technology to African students is important. However, what is more important is leaving our students with a positive and inquisitive attitude. Our students are intelligent and incredibly eager to learn, but sometimes they have an attitude of That will not work in Africa. AITI believes the most important component of its mission is to teach the students that they can positively affect their environment through hard work and unfaltering determination.

MIT Instructors

AITI's MIT participants are greatly affected by the program as well. Our MIT instructors spend 6 weeks in a demanding collaborative environment. They are introduced to new cultures and new worldviews. They absorb AITI's message of promoting development through education and technology. For example, several participants students have created comparable programs after their AITI experience: