Innovate Salone: “A De Mek Am” March Campaign Trip Review

Sierra Leone's Teen Tech Genius
07 Jun, 2016
Innovate Salone 2014 Finalist

About the Challenge:

The Innovate Salone: “A De Mek Am” Competition is looking to identify and support innovative solutions to issues within the fields of  Health,  Energy,  Education,  Agriculture,  Transportation,  Telecommunications,  Civic Media,  and Engineering in Sierra Leone. The Competition will sponsor secondary school students to create working models of their solutions while providing them with capital, mentorship and other resources.

Trip Objectives:

  1. National Publicity (concentration in 3 locations).
  2. Build capacity by training local team members to expand publicity.
  3. Recruit teachers, local mentors, other community volunteers and establish partnerships with local institutions.

Trip Outcomes:

  • National Publicity: Our team went to the eastern, western, southern and northern regions of Sierra Leone (≈ 700 km). We went to Bo (South), Pujehun (South), Kenema (East), Kono (East), Yele (North), Tombo (Western Area) and Freetown (Western Area).
  • Media: We appeared on two of the most popular TV shows at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). Micah Eckhardt was a guest on the popular morning show (Tea Break) while David Sengeh appeared on “We Yus”- the premier TV talk show in Sierra Leone.
  • Other team members were guests on multiple radio shows discussing the “Innovate Salone: A De Mek Am Competition”. Members were on Kiss Radio in Bo. In Freetown, we were guests on Universal Radio, Star Radio, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, Young African Voices Radio and Cotton Tree Network Radio among others.
  • We held a press conference at the Sierra Express Media where we distributed a press release to a host of newspaper and radio representatives. The press conference and other interviews led to multiple articles in nationally distributed newspapers.
  • School Visits: In Freetown we visited secondary schools including Prince of Wales, Convent, Freetown Secondary School for Girls, Lebanese International School, International School, and St. Edwards. In Bo, we visited, Bo Government Secondary School, Christ the King College, Awada Secondary School, Commercial Secondary School, SOS secondary school, Zenith International and Queen of the Rosary Secondary School. We visited Kenema Secondary School in Kenema and the two secondary schools in Pujehun. In Yele, we interacted with staff members at the only secondary school there.
  • Train local team members: Our team worked with university students and other young professionals to create a network of active volunteers who will lead the competition on the ground. The Sierra Leone-based team members were trained and given the opportunity to represent Innovate Salone in the various meetings with administrators and other facilitating volunteers.
  • Recruiting teachers, local professional mentors and community volunteers: Our team established partnerships with the Inspectorate of Schools (Ministry of Education) at each provincial headquarter town, Sierra Leone Youth Commission, staff members are various schools, media contacts and young professionals in the fields of medicine, law and engineering.

Innovate Salone: “A De Mek Am” Competition 2012
About the Challenge:

The Innovate Salone Competition is looking to identify and support innovative solutions to issues within the fields of Health, Energy, Education, Agriculture, Transportation, Telecommunications, Civic Media, and Engineering in Sierra Leone. The Competition will sponsor secondary school students to create working models of their solutions while providing them with capital, mentorship and other resources.

Why You Should Enter:

  • Because you are interested in creating innovative solutions for challenges you face at home, school, your community and Sierra Leone as a whole.
  • Competition semi-finalist and winners will receive initial financial resources to help develop their idea. Win up to $1,500 or an equivalent of over 6 Million Leones.
  • The winning teams will be given an opportunity to collaborate with Secondary Schools in the United States.
  • Schools that participate will have websites built for them for free by LAM-TECH Foundation, Inc.
  • Every applicant will be guaranteed feedback on their idea and winning teams will be matched with professional mentors for a year.

Important Dates/Information:

  • The deadline to submit the final application is April 27th, 2012
  • If you submit a draft application by April 18th by email to, you will receive detailed feedback by April 22nd.
  • The semi-Finalists will be announced in May 2012. Teams will win $500 towards development of a working model/prototype of their idea
  • Semi-finalists will have 2 months to develop a model/prototype of their idea
  • Grand winners will be awarded an additional $1,000 in August 2012 to be used towards development of their idea into a real-world product.

Proposal Requirements:

  • Contact Information: Provide names and detailed contact information for each team member
  • The Problem: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Introduction: A brief overview of the project.
  • Problem Motivation: Why is this problem important to you and Sierra Leone?
  • Proposed Solution: How will you fix the problem? What are the steps?
  • Detailed Budget: What materials would you need? How much would it cost?
  • Plan of Action:  What steps will make this project a reality? Who will help you do what you can’t do? Have you spoken to them?
  • Recommendation Letter: Each school must write recommendation letters for each team applying from their schools.

How to Apply:

  • Submit all application materials by email to
  • Submit printed copies of application at the Inspectorate of schools office at the Ministry of Education provincial headquarter towns (Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Freetown).


  • Innovate Salone is independently funded by Global Minimum Inc., individuals, and public and private institutions. Donated resources help with the organization of the competitions, support and implementation of the best ideas, and maintaining a network of innovators and entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone. Interested sponsors/donors should contact us for further information at

Innovate Salone: Our Team

  • Global Minimum Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab


  • Inspectorate of Schools: Ministry of Education, Sierra Leone, Sierra Express Media, Lam-tech Foundation Inc.


  • Aall Foundation, MIT Public Service Center, MIT Media Lab


  • David Sengeh (MIT Media Lab), Micah Eckhardt (MIT Media Lab), Joost Bonsen (MIT Media Lab), Adeyemi Paul (CEO Sierra Express Media), Tamba Lamin (Consultant), Joshua Schuler (MIT Lemelson-MIT Program), Kate Mytty (MIT IDEAS Challenge),

Local Facilitators

  • Mahmoud Javombo (Law School, University of Sierra Leone), Grant Bridgman (Innovation Poverty Action- MIT), Paul Sengeh Jr., Adeyemi Paul (Sierra Express Media)

by Micah Eckhardt and David Sengeh (April 2012)