mbadika

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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. :) 

[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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From Tally-Ho to Brussel-Sprouts; 

A quick update during my layover in Charlotte. 

Personal discovery; Business Class travel is really…really nice. ;) 

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Sadly, this evening is our last evening in Brussels. Nevertheless, I still had to do some last minute shopping for sweets and souvenirs for my loved ones back home in the States. Luckily, the U.S. Embassy granted us an extra long lunch to do our shopping before our travels tomorrow.

Since I had a lovely minute after a very quick shopping expedition to talk before I returned to my U.S. Embassy duties, I decided to make a quick video update. Enjoy! :)

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Just arrived in Brussels and my U.S. Embassy of Brussels liaison took me on a brief tour of the Plaza in downtown Brussels. A location filled with brilliant European architecture which houses the most sough after sweets in the world, including Belgian waffles and chocolate…along with Belgian beer.

I’ve only had a few hours to explore the area before having to return to my hotel and prepare for my official “work” for the U.S. State Department.

However, I feel I made sure to have carefree black girl time. ;)

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Late Post: June 08, 2014 @ Simmons Hall, MIT

We (the Mbadika Team) just moved into Simmons, our official Summer Residential HQ, as Residential Counselors. We have already starting making Simmons our mini-Office Space until we move into our Dudley Square Office Space in two weeks. :)

I seriously cannot tell you how blessed I am to have the assistance of such an amazing team this Summer in order to turn my dream for Mbadika into a reality.

Especially after the tumultuous Spring semester, moving into Simmons has been a breathe of some much needed fresh air.

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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. :)

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Departing my hometown for Brussels, Belgium on the invitation of the State Department. 

I’m so excited! :) 

“As a father, I can appreciate the simplicity of this kit, having worked through some more complicated electrical engineering kits with my own children. There’s value in having something that is immediately buildable by a 10 year old that they can put to use right away. They can design/paint it how they like and make it their own.”

-Erik Hersman, Gearbox-BRCK-iHub [Nairobi, Kenya]

Its always a pleasure to drop in on the U.N. Youth Envoy, U.N. Women’s Rights Envoy, UNICEF, and other youth based NGOs at United Nation’s Headquarters via Skype to share my experience launching Mbadika and working with my fellow youth to support aspiring young innovators and entrepreneurs around the world.

Youth…who look like us but may not realize they can be us.

On days like this, its an absolute pleasure being a social entrepreneur. 😀

Special Thanks to Vivian Onano, Youth Advisor to UN Women GCSAG for the photo.
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[At the top, Mbadika’s CTO Hazel Zengeni is posing with our Solar USB Charger Kit alongside (from left to right) Paul Tremblay (the Director of the BC Community Enterprise Clinic), Andrew Lee (Mbadika’s legal Superman), Hazel, and Gilad Rosenzweig (Director of Smarter in the City). (I’m not pictured because I was in S. Africa)
Followed by a group photo of our Smarter in the City cohort.]

Being a social entrepreneur is very hard work and you can attempt to go solo at first, but you always need a support network of family, friends, or mentors who are willing to help guide you along to your dream.

Recently, Boston Law Magazine featured our incubator program, Smarter in the City, as our incubator has been the recipient of pro bono legal services from Boston College Law School. The fabulous photos above are from the photo shoot and I have to say that I’m an enormous fan, especially since my favorite color is blue.

Through this program, our team has had the excellent legal assistance of Andrew Lee ‘15, whose helped us conduct patent analysis of our Solar USB Charger Kits (I’m not looking to wake up to a lawsuit anytime soon), research possible legal structures for Mbadika as either a non-profit or for-profit social venture, and obtain legal assistance in South Africa.

One thing I have to say from the article that I feel will stay with me is Andrew’s description of yours truly;

"Andrew Lee ’15 is one of six CEC students who counseled Smarter in the City and its five inaugural start-ups in the fall. Lee’s client is Mbadika (pronounced buh-JEE-kah), the brainchild of Netia McCray, whom Lee describes as “formal in speech, casual in demeanor,” with a passionate enthusiasm for her business."

On a personal note, I absolutely adore Andrew. However, I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and I believe that I’m the world expert on Netia McCray.

Since I have the luxury of being able to gather immediate feedback via Mom, I asked her what was Andrew talking about when he described me as “formal in speech, casual in demeanor”?

My Mother responded; “Netia, that is your personality. You come across as this naive girl whose lost in this great big world until you start talking about your business and people quickly realize your know your stuff.”

So…there you have it ladies and gentlemen…if you ask me for to describe how people view me in 10 words or less it’s: “formal in speech, casual in demeanor”.

If you are interested in reading about our business and legal journey in launching Mbadika (a great read if you are interested in launching a social venture but very confused by the legal jargon around incorporation), as well as those of our other Smarter in the City cohort members;

Check it out: http://lawmagazine.bc.edu/2015/02/the-little-incubator-that-could/

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Mbadika DEMO Workshop at the Central Library in Cape Town: 

(01/14-01/16/15)

A short video highlighting our DEMOs for local youth at the Central Library in Cape Town of our Solar USB Charger Kits. Trust me, I don’t just jet off from the United States to take in sights from around the world. 

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The moment when you have successfully conducted a DEMO Workshop for over 6 hours without incident and in the last 5 minutes, something starts smoking.

Also known as the moment you curse in front of 20 children and their parents. #startupgrind (at Central Library, Cape Town)

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The moments in life in which you feel comfortable, and dare I say a little proud of oneself, are usually few and far between.

Nevertheless, this is one of those moments.

Accepting the Global Generation Award from the Millennium Campus Network.

#notquiteflawlessbutcloseenough

Note: I’ll post the images from my recent travels this week, now that I am feeling better.

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I would like to thank the ‘Smart Girls Group’ for this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Smart Girls Guide Issue No. 15 representing STEM.

I hope that I properly represented my fellow sisters around the world and hope that a future reader will realize that it is possible to major in STEM and build a successful career for yourself while doing so.

I feel like a #TheNewSmartGirl. :)

Check out the latest issue here

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Yesterday, Mbadika was presented with a MCN Fellowship Grant from the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) and the Jenzabar Foundation at Smarter in the City Incubator in order to support further product design and development of our inaugural product, a Solar USB Charger kit.

We cannot wait to use our Fellowship Grant in order to further pursue our goals and dreams; Fostering youth-driven innovation and entrepreneurship around the World. :) 

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We have survived exhibiting at Maker Faire Africa in Johannesburg this week.

These little aspiring young innovators and entrepreneurs were an absolute pleasure to work with this week.

Even the girls who took a chance to breaj the mold and come to our table. Plus, look for special partnerships in the near future.