PORTRAIT (Togo) – Harvard Kennedy School: A Vision in Togo: Cina Lawson MPP 2001 uses technology to transform financial inclusion and internet access in this West African nation

2019 Recipient Public Service Award

CINA LAWSON MPP 2001 FIRST MET the president of Togo when he visited New York for the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. She was working in Manhattan, developing data infrastructure services for Orange Business Services’ public- and private-sector clients, and the two discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the telecom sector in West Africa.

When President Faure Gnassingbé was reelected in 2010, he remembered their conversation and asked Lawson to join his government as the minister of posts, digital economy, and technological innovation. Since assuming that position, she has significantly expanded access to both the internet and financial services in Togo.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘This could be the beginning of a revolution’

Me-Too-HandsShe’s on school reading lists and counts Hillary, Oprah and Beyoncé as fans. The author talks about motherhood, #MeToo – and causing controversy

At a PEN lecture in Manhattan last weekend, the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie took Hillary Clinton to task for beginning her Twitter bio with “Wife, mom, grandma”. Her husband’s account, it will surprise no one to know, does not begin with the word “husband”. “When you put it like that, I’m going to change it,” promised the 2016 presidential candidate.

Adichie is an international bestseller and about as starry as a writer can be (when we meet she chats casually about recently meeting Oprah Winfrey, who made a little bow to her). Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, published when she was only 26, was longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker; she won the 2006 Orange prize for Half of a Yellow Sun; was awarded a MacArthur fellowship – the so-called genius grant – and her work is now a fixture on American school reading lists. Following her sensational 2013 TED talk, We Should All Be Feminists, (sampled by Beyoncé, used by Dior for a series of slogan T-shirts and distributed in book format to every 16-year-old in Sweden) the 40-year-old has become something of a public feminist: hence scolding the former US secretary of state. MORE

These Young African Visionaries Made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List

Forbes Magazine just released its 30 Under 30 List 2018, and some of our favorite young African talents made the cut.

The list, which the magazine calls an “annual encyclopedia of creative disruption,” features young folks making waves in a number of industries, including tech, commerce, media, art, food, policy, entertainment and more. Continue reading

Four Belgians among list of European Innovators under 35

Since 2011, MIT Technology Review has been performing a talent search in several European countries for the most talented young innovators and entrepreneurs who are developing new technologies to address the most pressing issues faced by society. To that end, the magazine, property of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has celebrated local editions of its most prestigious competition in Belgium, Spain, France, Poland, Germany and Italy, always pursuing the same objective: to award innovation. This year, with the support of BNP Paribas and L’Atelier BNP Paribas, the competition has gone one step further by aiming to compile a pool of 35 profiles within the entire European Union.

No fewer than 4 Belgians feature on MIT Technology Review’s prestigious list of European Innovators under 35. The magazine of the American University Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) thus shows its appreciation for the work of Damya Laoui, Victor Dillard, Julien De Wit and Vincent Spruyt.

The list of ‘Innovators under 35 Europe’ consists of 35 talented European innovators and entrepreneurs who were chosen from 1,100 entrants.

Damya Laoui conducts research into a new cancer treatment via ‘dendritic cells’, which form part of our own immune system. She is investigating the possibility of extracting cells from cancer patients’ tumours and re-injecting them into the host in order to slow tumour growth.

Victor Dillard designed an artificial intelligence platform facilitating the development of safe and efficient gene therapy.

Vincent Spruyt developed a machine learning platform for explaining and predicting human behaviour through big data. His Sentiance platform uses data from smartphone sensors and already has half a million users.

Julien De Wit is looking for new techniques to identify and study potentially habitable planets orbiting stars other than the sun. As a member of Michaël Gillon’s team, Julien de Wit played a major role in the recent discovery of four exoplanets around the ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. MIT Technology Review had previously also named Julien De Wit as Belgian Innovator of the Year 2017.

Here Are The 2017 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant Winners


This MacArthur Foundation Genius grant winner found a smart way to spend his $625,000.

The MacArthur Foundation on Wednesday named 24 new “geniuses,” or fellows who receive a hefty cash prize to spend however they see best fit. MacArthur winners show “exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future,” the Chicago-based organization says.

Each member of the incoming class, which includes social activists, scientists, musicians, academics, architects and more, will receive $625,000 spread out over the next five years.

For many “geniuses,” the money represents a potentially life-changing sum. Past recipients have often put their newfound wealth into the causes that won them a MacArthur “genius” grant in the first place.

TIME reached out to some of this year’s MacArthur “genius” winners to find out more about their plans for the grant money. Here’s what they had to say: SUITE

Frances Messano: Following Her Heart From Wall Street To NewSchools Venture Fund

Frances-MessanoAlumna: Harvard Business School (MBA, ‘08) and
Harvard College (BA, Economics, ‘02)

A native of Brooklyn, Frances Messano benefited from having parents determined to ensure her success in life and a non-profit that opened the door to an exceptional education. After graduating from Harvard College, Frances started her career in finance but soon realized her work needed to align more closely with her values. She obtained an MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) and, after strategic roles in consulting and at Teach for America (TFA), she landed at NewSchools Venture Fund (NSVF), a mission-driven venture philanthropy that invests in social entrepreneurs who are reimagining K-12 education. It’s a role that seems tailor-made for Frances, who brings her entire self to work…what she calls being “Fully Frances.” Continue reading

A 26-year-old African just became the First Black Female Neurosurgery Resident at Johns Hopkins

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah shares how she feels about being the first black female neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins, and what she plans to do in the future.

Last week, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah got some really good news: She was accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s neurosurgery residency program — the first black woman to do so in the 30-year history of the program.

“There was a rush of emotions,” Nancy tells Teen Vogue about her initial reaction to the news. She found out on “Match Day,” when medical students nationwide learn if and where they “match” for postgraduate residency programs, which they must complete before practicing medicine in the United States. A representative from Johns Hopkins tells Teen Vogue the school accepts three to five neurosurgery residents into its program each year. Continue reading

La vie en Amérique d’après un auteur camerounais (Imbolo Mbue)

IMG_2480Join us on Tuesday, August 23rd for the release of Imbolo Mbue‘s novel, Behold the Dreamers.

Mbue’s eloquent debut novel takes the timeless story of immigrants coming to the U.S. in search of a better life and plants it in a particularly difficult historical moment.

The 2008 economic crisis was a hard time for the American Dream, and when Jende and Neni Jonga arrive in New York from Cameroon late in 2007, they initially feel fortunate to find work with the family of a Wall Street executive. But their employer works for Lehman Brothers, and the Jongas learn hard truths about the socio-economic realities of their new country. Continue reading