“Welcome to my little Silicon Valley! “ Mamadou Drame sketch a dunk on the small basketball hoop hung over the kitchen door. Here, no large server farms or endless open space full of computers. Just a two-room nicely furnished in start-up office in a new city in the suburbs of Dakar. Two large tables and three laptops suffice. Silicon Valley, is above all a state of mind. And this entrepreneur of 30 years doing everything possible to grow its scale
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Bouc well cut, slim fit shirt which he rolled up his sleeves, Mamadou Drame is one of the young pioneers of new technologies in the Senegalese education. He is the founder of Digital Technology School, the only company in the region specialized in the implementation of education software and online training platforms in universities. Since adolescence, Mamadou has two passions: computers and America. The social struggles of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, but also the technological innovation of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. “I was attracted to the American education model put forward the skills rather than theory. I wanted to create, and it seemed that the United States was the only land of opportunity that would allow me. My entourage is taking me for a fool, but I was convinced that there I could find other fools like me. “
” pioneering system “
Mamadou Drame grew up in Abidjan in a family that was moving steadily. After a tray in Benin, he has one thing in mind: American universities. But the exorbitant cost of overseas studies forced him to give up. France, its second choice, is also above the average of his parents, who preferred to see him work and open a stall at the market. His seven older brothers have all had to cut short their education to financially support the family. “I wanted to show them that education and entrepreneurship were also a way of success. “
He then decides to Senegal, he saw ” as a springboard “, before leaving bounce in America. But it will eventually make all of its studies in Dakar. “The training was good, very friendly system and even avant-garde to the region,” he says. He joined in 2008 the CESAG business school in Dakar. He is surprised archaic bureaucracy. “When enrolled at the university in Europe or America, the entire process is done online. In Africa, we still go for a large folder to complete by hand, which is lost, which is expensive and is very effective. “
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frustration that turns into revelation ” Why. in a country with advanced education system such as Senegal, iT and technological change had it been missed? I thought there was a flaw here that I could fill. “ in 2008 to facilitate the employment of graduates, he launched the first social network of the school. Named Asema, it allows students to get together in an online community and access to jobs. This first project launched two years after the opening of Facebook to the public, will allow him to land his first job “serious”. A financial manager position in a regional information technology and communication, which he sees the ad spend among dozens that peels daily before publishing on Asema.
Microsoft, Google and Obama
in 2011, he launched Web Corner, the first week of new technologies applied to education in Senegal. In talking with major industry like Microsoft, Samsung, Oracle and Internet Society, he realizes that they are looking to deploy in Africa innovative IT solutions for education, but they are not for business help implement these programs in schools.
“I decided to found Digital School Technologies. A start-up that will make the bridge between publishers and the world of education to allow Senegalese schools to enter the digital age. “ In 2013, he obtained his first contract with Microsoft to deploy their software in three Senegalese educational institutions. His name circulated and finally back to the ears of Google, which wants to go see him in his office. “At the time, with my partner, we had no office. So I gave the address of my house. In two days, I transformed my little student studio in local start-ups. “ The representative of the US firm sign him a good 25 000 of command to deploy its educational suites in ten universities in the country
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After Google, successes strung. He won a hackathon, a competition for developers, creating a mobile application to fight against Ebola. In 2014, he was selected with 500 promising young Africans from 50,000 candidates to participate in a program organized by Barack Obama: Mandela Washington Fellowship. “While I was fighting for my twelve years to go to the United States, in vain, the irony of fate would have it, it is they who come to me. “
There, for six weeks, he attended the University of Notre-Dame-du-Lac in Indiana, visit the premises of IBM, Oracle, and Google meeting entrepreneurs that fascinated the adolescent. “The program mainly taught us to strengthen our faith, to believe in our projects and in our ability to change, he advance. I had hitherto kept my job as manager for financial security. As soon as I returned to Senegal, I resigned. And I think I have done well, because the following year, I multiplied my income by five. “
” Pure African product “
Only in his family to have a higher education, he said ” conscious of his chance, “ but not special either. ” my pride is having to pay a good part of my studies by working side. There have been some very difficult moments. I had to leave for lack of housing means. “ It now funds studies of four of his nephews.
In addition to his company, he also launched his foundation, Africa School, which provides computers and tablets to young people and their learn the basics of computer code. “The programming language of the future, but almost no one teaches in Africa,” he proclaims. His dream is to create a new concept of school where, after graduating, young people will form short-term trades. “I’m tired of seeing curricula that make for years of computer engineers who are then unable to create something decent because we focused too much the technical part at the expense of the managerial and creative part . “
Since its studio in Dakar, Mamadou Drame thinks big. After Senegal, he has won the past two years schools and customers Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and launched a subsidiary in his native Côte d’Ivoire. “I do not want to start a business for a single country, he said. In business education in Africa, a country that is not a market. As we did find that fifteen to twenty schools and universities with the means to invest in technological innovation. “ His ambition she will cross the ocean? “Africa gave me a good education, a job that excites me and great opportunities. I envision a future world in my projects, but for anything I do not want to live in America or Europe! I am and I will stay a pure African product. “