Six months ago we boarded the plane on a one-way ticket from New York City to Tunis, to pursue a lifelong dream of connecting brilliant minds with opportunity. What started as an ambitious idea has now become a mission-driven venture and a growing movement of the most selective yet inclusive force of talented minds in North Africa and the Sahel. We’re transforming the region into a hub of mind power and technology excellence.
Each of us still vividly remembers the day when we took the decision. Amal and Mehemed were sitting at the Watson Library at Columbia Business School in New York while Joscha joined on the screen sitting by his desk in Santiago de Chile. Once again, the Skype connection failed. After months of research, brainstorming and interviews, on that special day, we decided to abandon jobs and graduate school in order to pursue our passion by launching Think.iT.
We knew we were in a unique position. We had formed exceptionally strong networks, built our knowledge in new technologies at leading companies such as Microsoft and Amazon, and acquired access to the world’s major tech ecosystems. For the past half a year, we leveraged those resources to shape the brightest software engineers into technology changemakers and integrate them as distributed team members in international engineering teams.
In 2017, Think.iT has hence grown from a concept and idea into a real organisation and is operating on three different continents.
Here are five highlights of our work as we look back on a very eventful 2017:
- Next month, our team will grow to 30 people, including 22 young engineers with good salaries who are collectively supporting more than 100 family members;
- We formed multiple partnerships with EU/US startups and SMEs, who highlighted their strong satisfaction with our engineers and asked for more Think.iTeers to join their teams;
- We were joined by international profiles and graduates from top schools such as Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley, ESADE Barcelona and Leiden University on almost no salary, simply as a result of their belief in our vision, people and management capability;
- Our founders were invited to share our approach at various conferences and panels and joined the ranks of global organizations supporting aspiring talent, such as Atlas Corps and BMW Foundation’s Responsible Leaders Network;
- We were awarded the UN SDSN Special Youth Prize 2017, a $125k innovation grant by the German government (EXIST) and selected as a portfolio company by Columbia University’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise ($25k award money);
We do believe in a movement and revolution; a revolution through rethinking education and access to labor. We will continue to focus our mindpower, networks and resources around education and self-empowerment in order to build an entire generation of technology change makers in North Africa. We will provide youth with access to reclaim education and opportunity by exhibiting discipline, curiosity and real passion, all the ingredients needed for success and a good life.
We signed up for something that is much bigger than ourselves, and we need more exceptional minds who share this belief. If you want to get involved, we invite you to reach out and collaborate.
Let’s make 2018 count!
Amel, Mehemed & Joscha