Funding Innovators in Sierra Leone

Please help a group of aspiring entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone by sponsoring one of 20 scholarships for a 3-month business and technology class in Freetown starting November 1.

Hi. My name is Russ Klein. For the past several years, I have been volunteering from afar to help build Sensi Tech Hub , a non-profit co-working space, innovation center, and startup incubator in Freetown Sierra Leone. In that time, Sensi has become a vital community center and a shared resource serving those who need it most. Nearly 300 members use the co-working space and its resources on a regular basis, while many more attend the hub's innovation workshops, business seminars, and cultural events.

Beginning in November, I will be teaching a class there on technology skills and entrepreneurship. It is a 3-month course, for twenty students and is a combination of group activities and individual project mentorship, focused on technology skills, business best-practices, and problem-solving through. The fundamental proposition is that technology skills and innovation are a path out of poverty for Sierra Leone. At the end of the course, we will help the students leverage their new skills to secure gainful and productive employment.

This is an unpaid engagement. My expenses (travel, food and lodging, etc) for the 3-month residency are being covered by Sensi. Still, I'm a volunteer and it costs money ($250 per student) to conduct the class, so I'm asking for help offering scholarships to qualified students who cannot afford the tuition. Please consider making a contribution to this project. My goal is to provide at least 10 students with scholarships. To thank you for your support, I offer the following rewards:

Adopt a Student ($250)
Your contribution of $250 or more will grant a scholarship to one student. You'll be the enabler, giving an aspiring entrepreneur a head start with her business, or helping a youth learn valuable computer skills that will help him get a good job. I will facilitate a personal introduction between you and the student you are sponsoring; I will send you regular progress reports during the program; and I will send you an impact assessment at the end of the program. Tuition includes membership to Sensi and use of the facilities, all curriculum materials and resources, as well as all costs directly associated with the student's activities. You'll be amazed at how much difference you can make in one person's life. Of course, you'll also receive the Notes from the Field, Public Acknowledgement, and the Trip Report.

Notes From the Field ($100-$249)
All donors who give $100 or more will receive a weekly journal update from me with observations and photos. Anyone who has read my travel diaries will tell you the posts are interesting, informative, and delightfully readable. I'm excited to share my adventure with you. Your donation will contribute to the scholarship goal and help make the extra excursions possible for my students. You'll also receive the Public Acknowledgement, and the Trip Report.

Public Acknowledgement ($25-$99)
All donors who give $25 or more will be acknowledged along with all the other donors in my trip report and will receive a copy of it. The report will be circulated widely to major international donor organizations and across the social media. 

Trip Report (under $25)
I realize that a lot of people can't give as much as they would like. Donors who give an amount less than $25 will have my gratitude, of course. And, to thank you, I will send you a copy of my final trip report at the end of the project. 

Please help these aspiring young innovators by sponsoring a scholarship, if you can. At any level, your contribution will support the program and will be greatly appreciated by all the participants.

Thank you.








Q&A: 

Why Sierra Leone?
Years of hardship have left much of the Sub-Saharan region impoverished and lagging the rest of the world in infrastructure, education, and technology. Sierra Leone, in particular, is a significantly under-developed and under-served community. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies, both jobs and skilled labor are in high demand and short supply.   

Why Now?
Sierra Leone and its neighbors have an opportunity to learn from and avoid mistakes made in the developed world, making infrastructure and environmental choices that ensure sustainable growth. 

Why Sensi?
The facility is unique in the country. It is set up to spark the entrepreneurial spirit, stimulate and equip innovation, and to incubate, nurture and accelerate startups. The hub is dedicated to community, learning, open dialog, open data, and full transparency.

Why Russ Klein?
A serial entrepreneur, engineer, educator, and researcher, I have experience with a broad range of legacy and emerging technologies. I direct innovation programs both in highly-regulated industries and in emerging markets. My activity supports corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations in their pursuit of new products, improved operational efficiency, good governance, and social responsibility. I am passionate about sharing my learning, helping people re-imagine the world, and watching them bring their visions to life.


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Organizer

Russ Klein 
Organizer
Newton, MA
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