Sunday, June 2, 2013

DreamOval named amongst Ghana's Innovation Heroes

I first met Derrydean Dadzie in 2004 while I was in Ghana during my summer vacation. I had come to Ghana with the MIT-AITI team to teach computer programming (Java & JSP) as well as entrepreneurship to a group of people (mostly university students). The 6-week program was held at Legon. One of the participants in the program from the year before, Mr. Mohamed Abdulai, was working at the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT at the time. He invited me to come to KACE-AITI to talk to their students about ICT or something of that sort (I don't remember what exactly). Yes, I have been vimming people since since :-) One thing that gave me more vim as I left KACE-AITI that day, was the encounter with Derrydean. I had a new-found respect for Ashesi University, because of him.

I was already a huge fan of Patrick Awuah then, for tackling a Ghanaian problem head on and being entrepreneurial, innovative and smart about it. Meeting Derrydean helped me understand Ashesi from the point of view of a student and the impact of an Ashesi education. Derry was critical, smart, passionate and he looked like the world-class students I had been meeting at MIT. I stayed in touch with him, kept my eyes and ears to the ground tracking Ashesi's progress and by the time Derrydean graduated from Ashesi, he was not taking a job at VRA, he founded DreamOval.

In December 2008, when we organized the first Barcamp Ghana event, we were looking for young people in Ghana who were building the business and technology renaissance. Derrydean and his Dream Oval Ghana Limited team fit the bill. Derry was a panelist at the event. I don't know if that was the first time he had been a panelist at any event but I do know he's done that round many more times since that Barcamp. He's won a National Youth Achievers Award in ICT and last month, DreamOval was awarded as part of Ghana's Innovation HeroesIt's part of a new initiative by Ghana's Ministry of Trade and Industry and Google Ghana. Innovation Ghana is meant "to celebrate our homegrown innovators and discuss what is needed to bring Ghana to the fore of innovation and entrepreneurship." 
Watch a video that tells their story

They have a great list of clients in Ghana. When they started out as a startup, they had many products in mind. Their story is one for many other startups in Africa to study, especially when it comes to funding and sustainability. They did a lot of software jobs for various companies, some even for free, to build credibility and reputation and a demonstration of excellence. It all came full circle when they launched i-wallet in May, 2012.

DreamOval has done many impressive things. I count chief amongst them, their corporate social responsibility program that has seen deliver ICT training to people in the education space. Last year, they trained over 80 teachers from the Ashanti region in ICT skills which I think was really remarkable.

Mbo! Keep it up DreamOval! We're looking for Dreamville. :-)
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