EIT Spotlight: Ahmed Madani

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday September 12th 2018

This year, we welcomed EITs from 12 different countries to form the MEST Class of 2019. Several members of the new cohort are among the first people from their home countries to come to MEST. We took the opportunity to get to know the EITs from these new countries and learn more about why they came to MEST.

This week we heard from Ahmed Madani, the first EIT from Sudan, and how he tries to find inspiration everywhere.

Where are you from?

I am from Sudan.

How did you hear about MEST?

I heard about MEST through a friend who was doing his Masters in the UK. He sent me a link!

What made you decide to come to MEST?

I came to MEST because I felt that it was the right time to become an entrepreneur. I’ve been in entrepreneurship since 2014, but I didn’t have the courage to have my own startup. When I found MEST, I felt it was the right time to jump into this journey.

I specifically came to this program because it’s African. It allowed me to be within Africa and create products for Africa. If I build a startup, it will be in the African ecosystem so I can support and build my community. I like that the impact I make will be within Africa.

Why do you believe tech entrepreneurship is important?

In Sudan, we have a lot of issues, but many can’t be solved in traditional ways because Sudan is under sanctions. Many, however, could be solved by technology. I’ve seen that in Sudan. We didn’t have Uber, but now two startups have come and solved some of the transportation issues. This created a lot of impact, not only financial but even in changing mindsets. People realized they could use the apps as an extra job to support their families.

When I was in college, I was studying Nuclear Engineering, and I was introduced to Android Mobile Application. I loved it. I could work on it all the time, so I realized it was my passion and the thing I wanted to do. I decided to work in tech because I love it.

Tell me a bit about the tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in your country. What are your hopes for the future of that ecosystem?

The ecosystem in Sudan involves a lot of startups trying to solve the issues that we have in Sudan - from transportation to online payments. A lot of startups are providing solutions for the Sudanese and what we need as a society.

My hope is for the ecosystem to be more exposed to the ecosystem outside of Sudan and to have the ability to engage solutions from other countries. Currently, we aren’t exposed to the outside ecosystems. That is part of why I am the first EIT from Sudan.

Why do you believe Pan-African entrepreneurship is important?

We share the same cultures and ways of thinking. A lot of us have the same issues. If you find a solution that works in Nigeria or Kenya, it might work in Sudan. We have to unite in order to face our issues. This will help Africa to be a better continent.

Who/what inspires you?

Steve Jobs, Joe Nash, and Mustafa Mahmoud. These are three people that inspire me, but to be honest, I take inspiration from everywhere I go.

Steve Jobs made it. He has the “thing”, the "it" factor. He knows the key to success. Joe Nash is a genius when it comes to maths, prediction, and working with chaos. I also admire his wife. He had a great wife, who truly supported him as a partner. He’s not only great at maths but also great at picking his partner when it came to life. Mustafa Mahmoud represents doubt for me. He was a Muslim who lost his faith and then found it again. He solved his doubt and the way he considered doubts inspires me.

What would you like most to gain from this next year at MEST?

To conquer my fear. I will be a good entrepreneur if I can conquer the fear that I’ve had since graduating from university. Entrepreneurship is wonderful, but it’s a risky journey. Unless you have a backup plan, it’s hard to do. I’ve always been afraid to fail because failing isn’t an option for me. I want to conquer that fear and gain knowledge.

Are you interested in becoming an EIT at MEST like Ahmed? Applications for the Class of 2020 are now open. Apply here!