Joel Mwale, a Kenyan startup entrepreneur with a global vision, is only 20. He never finished school. He sold his first startup SkyDrop for nearly half a million US$. Now he started his second venture: Gigavia.com, a combination of social media and education.
–. Joel Mwale’s goal is to change the behavior towards social media of students as well as of teachers. Gigavia.com is a bit like Facebook, but with additional sections for mentoring, school assignments, teachers and schools. And he thinks big: Gigavia.com is planned to go global from scratch.
Gigavia.com is doing really well. Shortly after the website has been officially launched, it has gained more than a million users, a proof that word of mouth still is an excellent tool. More people registered from the U.S. and Turkey than from Kenya. That’s the first statistic:
- 47 countries represented
- 493 institutions registered
- 1, 078 verified registered teachers
- 352 verified professional mentors registered
The young man is living his dream:
“I came from nothing, we had no money, and I always wanted to be rich when I was young. I want to help people improve their lives, but I’m also an entrepreneur who wants to succeed.”
Interviewed by BBC Newsday’s David Whitty in Nairobi, he also made clear:
“What I’ve learnt is that to be successful you’ve got to be determined, you’ve got to work hard, and if you do so the world will give you a standing ovation. If you dedicate 100% of your efforts into something it will definitely succeed.”
In a portrait published by McKinsey Voices you can read how it all began:
After falling ill with dysentery, Joel Mwale decided to do something about the lack of clean drinking water in his village. With a small bit of money he had saved and the knowledge of physics he had acquired at school, Joel built a borehole on some community farmland. The borehole reduced the amount of time required to collect water for daily cooking, drinking and cleaning, and reduced the rate of infection from water-borne illnesses. Over one hundred people visited the farm daily to collect water from the borehole, free of charge. But Joel still needed money to pay his school fees and complete his secondary education. So he founded SkyDrop, a rainwater filtration and bottling company which produces low-cost purified drinking water in Kenya and Uganda.
The success of SkyDrop brought him international recognition, several awards and grants and a place on the Forbes list of 30 under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs. And some meetings with some of the top players in Silicon Valley, amongst others he met with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.
Joael Mwale heard him saying:
“In the next two years a start-up is going to come up and it’s going to grow from zero to 200 million users in two years.”
… and he thought:
“Wow! I’m definitely going to be that person.”
He wants to prove it in having 150 million people using Gigavia.com by March 2014.
Read more about him on BusinessDaily here. And please watch Joel Mwale, who seems to be very modest, talking at different interviews and events: