We had a blast making DIY solar USB charger kits with Netia from #Mbadika today at @BGCDorchester Today! Check out the electronics these talented students made today. ☀️🔋🔌 #makers #diy #circuits #eecs #futuregeneration #science #engineering #arts #education #bgca #dorchester #boston #outreach #volunteer #community #instashare #buildstuff #creators #smartkids (at Marr Colonel Danl & Boys Club of Dorchester)

[MAKER FAIRE] The DIY solar mobile charger that can be built an hour

[MAKER FAIRE] The DIY solar mobile charger that can be built an hour

24-year-old Netia McCray is passionate about hardware prototyping and development as well as fostering young innovators and entrepreneurs around the world, which is what led her to start a social venture called Mbadika and create the Mbadika build-it-yourself solar charger.

A recent graduate in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), McCray founded Mbadika – which…

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It may seem strange, but I’ve never won a cash prize at a Pitch Competition before…let alone received a “Publisher’s ClearingHouse” Sized Check.

Accomplished both last night as Mbadika is the Second Runner-up in Smarter in the City’s Pitch on the Deck Competition.

Funny moment; When Mbadika was “called”, it was called as “the one we can’t pronounce”…

no response …*crickets*
(I was 90% sure I knew they were talking about my baby).

Then the presenter changed tactics to; “the one with the girl from MIT”.

Ahhh, they are talking about me.

Two Summers ago, I was a Consultant venturing to South Africa for the very first time to help a little project…which was just an idea on paper at the time…called Workshop 17….design a Maker Space that aspiring young hardware innovators and entrepreneurs would use to develop breakthrough innovations for the African continent.

Now, I’m standing at the site for the official launch of the Workshop 17 project while I’m back in town to continue to develop my idea that emerged from my work with Workshop 17, Mbadika’s line of DIY Kits to inspire South African youth to learn and build hardware solutions.

It just goes to show you, Oprah was right when she said luck is when opportunity meets a soul that has prepared.

Fingers crossed that will continue to prove true.


This past Sunday, I had the absolute pleasure of launching our new Summer Workshop series for aspiring young innovators and entrepreneurs in collaboration with MIT ESP (Educational Studies Program);

“Change the World; How to Develop Hardware Solutions to tackle Global Challenges”

Every Sunday until mid-August, we will challenge over 50 middle schoolers and high schoolers from across New England to come to MIT Campus and challenge themselves to learn the basics of product design and development as well as develop practical solutions for the other 90% of the globe.

I felt the first session went off to a great start as my team and I literally threw our participants into electronics with a neat little bag of random goodies (including a toothbrush) for the student to use to build some very cool electronic creations.

Now, after also launching our new Summer Workshop Series for Roxbury residents this morning…I can feel my hard work these past couple of weeks starting to payoff.

Feeling Accomplished...

Never realized how strong the scent from laser cutting acrylic and plywood could be until I entered the car with my Mother.

After 6 hours of laser cutting, I’ve witnessed her face scrunch up like I’m entering her car after chain-smoking two packs of cigarettes.

I feel like I’ve earned some nerd or technical badge from her…finally.

“Why bother with Entrepreneurship?

Sometimes, entrepreneurship is portrayed as a high stakes gamble in which very few lucky players win the jackpot. In my experience, I feel this “high stakes” image of entrepreneurship discourages students with the potential to become impactful entrepreneurs from pursuing business ventures. However, if you desire to make an impact on the world, there is no other method that magnifies your efforts like entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is not just a career choice for those who wish to obtain large amounts of wealth fairly quickly. Entrepreneurs develop solutions to address challenges facing the world in order to improve the well being of humanity. If you desire to change the world, entrepreneurship allows for you to develop and distribute your solution in order to change it.

If you look at any company, whether you are a fan or not, you will quickly realize every founder had a vision for the world and their company is the vehicle in which they are able to change it.”

-Netia A. McCray
Executive Director, Mbadika

Read More of Recepressneurs Q&A with Netia McCray here


Yesterday, I was finally able to revisit my manufacturing space in Cape Town and have a nice little reunion with my partners, Charles and Netano of EduGreen.

Luckily, they had a nice surprise waiting on me when I entered the space. A nice piece of artwork representing our transatlantic partnership, South Africa and America…attempting to work in harmony.

However, our reunion had to be cut short as we prepared for an order of (100) Solar USB Charger Kits for some anxious hands waiting on us this Saturday at the SA Innovation Summit.


Spent my last day in Brussels, Belgium conducting an interview for the U.S. Embassy in Brussels podcast on my journey to MIT and founding Mbadika, how to empower minority youth to bring positive change to their communities, and what does Black History mean to me and my family (vis a vis Morgan Freeman). 

After spending over an hour conducting the interview, I made a B-line to Dandy’s Shop for a variety of tea cookies including the Belgium favorite, Speculoos (the tea cookies with the windmill). The baker was even kind enough to take a picture of me oogling at the display of cookies.  

I was able to order a box of tea cookies to bring back to the United States for my family in order to host a proper Belgium Tea Party. 

The perfect way for one to reward herself for a job well done. :) 


On a personal note, I was a little concerned about leaving our partners, EduGreen, by themselves to manufacture and assemble our DIY Solar USB Charger Kits in Cape Town while I’m networking and fundraising in Boston. However, I’m going to mark myself highly impressed. EduGreen has already brought on board our first volunteer, Netano Fortune (pictured above), whose already learned to solder and hot glue electronic components for our DIY Kits. Plus, he’s already assembled almost 60 DIY Kits since yesterday. A little tear in my eye as I am officially proud of the newest member of our startup family and my partners at EduGreen. :’)


Late Post: June 06, 2014 @ New House, MIT

So, we (Mbadika) finally received our Desktop CNC Mill from Inventables, Inc. (a Chicago-based Hardware Store for Designers) and began constructing our kit, the Shapeoko 2, for use during the Summer for constructing prototype Solar USB Charger kits for Sub-Saharan African youth to learn electronic and hardware product design and development.

I clearly recall someone stating that the kit would only require a 3 hr. assembly time for a novice designer or engineer. Well, I had myself and a MIT-Graduate Student in Mechanical Engineering assembling the kit for over 3 hrs. with minimal progress. Since I’m also moving into another dorm in a few days, I figure we have to wait until we settle in before restarting the build.

However, we did notice two things about the kit that caught our attention; (1) Its powered by an Arduino (pretty impressive programming feat) and (2) It includes a 220V “Dremel”-ish Rotary Tool (this means that it uses more voltage than the mini-fridge in your dormitory). The person who designed the kit did create a pretty impressive assembly, however the instructions could be a little more….comprehensible.

[Again, I’m used to following assembly instructions and was in the company of a MIT-Graduate Student in Mechanical Engineering…still a little difficult for both of us to follow the instructions]

We shall see if the kit was worth the price tag ($685 for the 220V version or $650 for the 110V version). If we can get it working, I think this will be a very impressive addition to the Mbadika arsenal. :)


Finally able to see Mbadika’s new manufacturing HQ in Cape Town in person as it undergoes its final construction stage.

After months of anticipation, I can finally see it taking shape and I can’t hide my anticipation to get started changing the world with my EduGreen counterparts over the next few months.

Plus, it will be open for my birthday.

Very close to the best birthday present…ever.


Mbadika Update: Our Shapeoko 2 - Desktop CNC Mill 

Since early June, our team (Mbadika) has attempted to assemble the elusive Shapeoko 2, a Desktop CNC Mill kit available through Inventables, Inc. (a Chicago-Based Hardware Store for Designers).

If you are unfamiliar, a CNC Mill is a device that allows for the user to ‘mill’ (to cut, grind, or shape) materials such as acrylic, sheet metal, plastics, and plywood via a rotary tool. In other words, think about a Dremel (a popular rotary tool) attached to a printer, which can create 2D shapes out of a wide array of materials. 

The CNC Mill receives commands from your Desktop CAD (computer-aided design) program via an Arduino Uno Microcontroller (cool right?). We were able to attach a permanent marker to the end of the Z-Axis (which typically will hold the Rotary Tool, such as a Dremel) in order to see if the Arduino Uno was receiving code properly from our computer.

We were successful in getting the CNC Mill to write a few letters, despite our bootleg attachment design for the permanent market to the CNC Mill (video will be posted soon). 

After over 18 hours of pulling our hair out, we finally got our CNC Mill working. Now we can start making prototypes within our dorm 'office space’ in order to further develop our initial portfolio of products for Mbadika.

On a personal note, this is my first time assembling a complex machine or a machine that requires longer than a 5 hour build time. Therefore, I decided I deserved a little pat on my back.  


Getting down and dirty at our Manufacturing HQ.

Yesterday, we were finally able to give the space a proper facelift with some repair work on the walls as well as a healthy dose of blue and green on the walls.

Tomorrow, we will finish with the perpendicular walls being yellow as well as move-in our new furniture, our power outlets complete, paintings on the wall, and updating our chairs with a dash of yellow.

My hope is by this Saturday, I can share our finished space with you all in the tumbler-verse. Nonetheless, I can slowly start to see us growing in this space. :)


Layover in Amsterdam;

Safe and Sound in Cape Town after having a fantastic layover in Amsterdam in which I was finally able to step outside of the airport and take the train to Central Station to explore the Red Light District, the Canal (while taking a Canal Cruise), dine at some fine bakeries, and finally explore some coffee shops.

I have to admit, the layover process in Amsterdam is a very smooth process and I was so fortunate to be able to spend my layover with my favorite person in the world. :)

Now, off to work in Cape Town launching into Stage 2 of Mbadika’s launch plans. #startup grind
MIT D-Lab Alumni: Netia McCray '14

After completing D-Lab’s Design for Scale course in Fall 2013, I was inspired to develop a solution in order to assist youth in emerging markets in learning the basics of product design and development in order to develop hardware solutions to improve their lives and those in their communities.

Based on my experience working with youth in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, I wanted to develop a line of do-it-yourself (DIY) kits through my nonprofit, Mbadika, that would provide a youth a hands-on method of learning the basics of hardware.

Read More on MIT D-Lab’s Blog here .


Yesterday, I had an amazing reunion with the AMPION Venture Bus Crew at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Conference in Cape Town.

Honestly, hosting a Press Conference on an actual AMPION Venture Bus maybe the most clever way to drive home the message of a
mobile solution" to foster young innovators and entrepreneurs on the continent.

Even was able to share my AMPION Venture Bus story with the attending Press.

On a personal note; I look so professional in a simple jumpsuit.
This is a must keep in my business closet.


U.S. Embassy in Brussels Belgium: 

“Who Inspires You? ft. Netia McCray, Founder and CEO of <a href=“”> Mbadika </a>” Snippet

Remember the interview I went to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels Studio for? 

The Embassy has kindly released the first snippet of the interview for public consumption. In the clip, I highlight who is the person who has inspired me the most in my life. 

Is it cheesy? Yes. But how could it not. 

Hope you enjoy a sneak peek at “Ms. America” side of yours truly. 

On a personal note, I either need to learn how to pose for the camera or minimize my awkward video thumbnails. >_<