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YWI documents inventors who inspire and stories that empower, to multiply global invention.

YWI documents inventors who inspire and stories that empower, to multiply global invention. Read More
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This project's funding goal was not reached on August 29, 2013.

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About this project


Young World Inventors (YWI), a Boston-based multimedia production group, began telling stories in Kenya in 2011, where a digital revolution is underway. YWI takes you to Eastern Africa to see for yourself the innovative enterprise that’s changing the face of the region. Founded by Diane Hendrix, PBS producer and MIT teacher, these are personal stories of the process of social enterprise, case studies for colleges, tools for multiplying invention in the U.S. and Africa. 

These stories are unlike any that are now online: they are evolving stories of startups for broadcast and distribution, tools for shared learning.   Why are they important?  Stories inspire change and empowerment, as with Bernard Kiwia.  

African broadcasters and teachers have asked us for stories to inspire and instruct teens and twenty-somethings. They are also building blocks for an international documentary about the digital revolution underway in Africa.

A dedicated website in collaboration with 25 others can share stories of discovery with millions.  New partners in Tanzania and Rwanda want to sell inventions on our global site. We will lease case studies to colleges in the U.S. and Africa as case studies of enterprise. 

Nearly two-thirds of the world's fastest growing economies are in Africa. As President Obama said, “Africa is not a charity case.” We agree! Africa’s youth (50% under 19) are changing its story. Let us show you what some  are doing and spread innovation stories to generate more, for a global community -- starting with you!


After producing ten stories from three production trips since 2011, armed with 60+ hours of footage not yet edited into stories, we will return to Africa in September. We will shoot three new stories and complete two dozen total, enough to launch a robust interactive site. Already we have ~9,000 views of videos, without marketing. Our library of stories will be organized by team, theme, and geography on a dedicated site for sharing with global entrepreneurs, to educate and empower innovation.

That’s where you come in!

Kickstarter funds will take us to Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania to film the evolving challenges of entrepreneurs. Broadcasters in Rwanda and Tanzania are negotiating for stories, and colleges need case studies in four curricula. They are building blocks for a new documentary on African invention and enterprise. 

Bernard Kiwia invented a solar water heater and a cell phone charger in Tanzania, a country that runs on hydropower and leaves people without power for days during drought. See Bernard's story as an example of what our dedicated site can present. Bernard partnered with M.I.T. alum Jodie Wu to build bike-powered devices for Global Cycle Solutions. Now both Bernard and Jodie face new challenges, and our cameras detail their personal motivations, evolving goals and selling strategies, to educate and inspire others, through web, broadcast and educational distribution.  

Four of our unfolding stories follow startups founded and run by women in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, dedicated to teaching others as well. 

One new story presents Maasai-American Payan, who brought his smokeless Kenya Stoves home to Kenya to reduce lung disease and deforestation. The toxic smoke from cooking stoves produces the same effect as smoking 20 cigarettes per day for women and children. Lung disease is the second biggest killer (after AIDS) in the developing world. 

Funds donated to YWI's campaign will go toward:  

  • Travel:  for director (5 wks) and camera/editor (2 wks), to cover stories in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. On this fourth trip, we’ll shoot three stories in Rwanda, two in Kenya, and two in Tanzania.
  • Video Production: filming by award-winning shooters from Boston, as well as two East African producers, whom we must pay (reduced fees) and with whom we have worked well.
  • Video Editing: in Africa and in Boston. Besides airfare, editing is the most costly line item in our budget, which we keep as low by using talented but emerging young editors.
  • Music: paying for the creative work of the Kenyan-based group, Just a Band, as they compose new tunes for our documentaries. Just a Band has performed at SXSW in Austin, TX and has exhibited their art and music videos in New York City. They also teach teenage girls computer skills in Nairobi slums.


Whether you donate or not, please help us build the buzz. Share our KS link by clicking the buttons below!  Join our interactive community. 

Check out our fun rewards. New company sponsorships can support our high tech stories of mobile applications in the Silicon Savannah!


Two weeks ago, an unknown Rwandan video producer sent us our first unsolicited video about a mobile app inventor in western Rwanda. This high school graduate devised a switch for solar panels using a discarded mobile phone. We plan to meet the inventor and collaborate on another video episode.  African broadcasters have asked for such stories from YWI, and schools need video case studies to seed innovation. 

This video placed in two global competitions; such stories can help change  ideas of their future for African (and American) youth. Stories of problem-solving drive invention, and invention is the engine of prosperity. We believe that shared stories will inspire both. With new web/media partners, we  can scale up story outreach to fuel this invention movement.

YWI tracks the roller coaster ride of startups: pitches and promises, distributors that disappoint and troublesome team members, with hard-won lessons. Colleges can use videos as real world case studies. Retirees can become mentors. Broad audiences can join this community, inspired by the creative action of youth.

When you pledge to our campaign, you join a global community of shared stories, invention, and learning. Check out cool rewards and share this link  with many others. Like us onFacebook.  Watch videos on YouTube.


The backstory of HeHe, Ltd. in Rwanda appears in the new African Maker series, followed by "Peddling Pedal Power: bike powered innovation in Africa" at The third on YWI's new Kenya Stoves story is coming soon.

The global Engineering for Change posted the evolution of inventor Bernard Kiwia. Our videos will be wrapped in such stories on a well designed, interactive site.

An article about YWI, its mission and genesis appeared in the East Africa Flyer's October/November 2012 issue, published in Nairobi.

YWI Advisor, Jennifer Jordan, a Sloan School/MIT alum and MassVentures V.P., told us, "As a venture capitalist focused on early-stage companies, as well as a former Managing Director of Golden Seeds, the largest US Angel network focused on women founders...I have seen how important it is for entrepreneurs to be able to access both inspiration and experience from the global entrepreneurial ecosystem."


Check out our fun rewards. Schematic instructions show you how to be a DIY inventor. Use your own corn sheller, get CDs from Just a Band, read about the Young World Rising.

New company sponsorships ($1000) will support our DIY or high tech stories in the Silicon Savannah! Join the company of our collaborators listed below. Or become the executive producer for your own video.


Risks and challenges

After three production trips to East Africa, we realize that lives are fluid and equipment and schedules jam sometimes; we've been there. As a result, we build in downtime and delays. We have several new partners who share our goals: a new Co-lab founder in Rwanda and two student groups in Tanzania are now collaborating with us on story development and logistics. We are taking a team of two (director and shooter) on this trip, which should make our trip doubly effective. We expect to fulfill rewards on schedule, having found suppliers used reliably by others.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • Yes, but that’s just the videos, in random arrangement using traditional, one way communication. There is hidden talent in the most remote areas, and local or international media team cannot capture them all. If we collaborate with local agencies, we local talent and hidden storytellers; we believe diverse approaches will be infectious. When launches at the end of 2013, this fully interactive website will feature dozens of stories showing trials and triumphs on the road to sustainable business, learning to select and discipline a team that will keep the startup afloat. We seek videos from the field from West Africa, where we have collaborators in Sierra Leone.

    The YWI platform is not just a "billboard" to webcast videos and collects comments from the audience. With your help, YWI can become a GATEWAY for INNOVATION, an interactive platform building a global community, channeling resources and connecting young innovators with each other, with investors and with markets.

    By focusing on the inventors and their process (NOT on devices alone), YWI aims to inspire hundreds of young inventors and create a growing movement of intenational enterprise.

    Last updated:
  • We aim to accelerate a movement that I thought three years ago was growing, and it's become increasingly true. Since then, every six months when I returned, the activity, the funders and the smart young inventors had multiplied. In the past year, US media are picking up the story of African innovation, peaking with Obama's trip and serious investors traveling with him to AFrica. GenYs want work that makes some meaningful difference in lives -- theirs and others. There are new prizes for invention and innovative solutions to everyday problems, high interest in DoItYourself and Maker Faire movements and investor interest in enterprise, especially among the young, including our friends in Sierra Leone, Innovate Salone, who have a Rockefeller grant to expand into Kenya and South Africa. Everybody's doing it, seems to me. It's thrilling, and I want to capture the momentum with youth as the movement expands and multiplies, seeding invention.

    Last updated:


  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more
    About $5 USD

    4 backers

    Personal shout out on YWI's Facebook page and our undying gratitude: You just joined a global inventors community!

    Estimated delivery:
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more
    About $10 USD

    12 backers

    Ingenius Tanzanian inventor Bernard Kiwia’s instructions for solar water heater made from recycled materials + project updates.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more
    About $25 USD

    5 backers

    Handy dandy Totebag in black with brand new YWI logo in Africa's red, green and yellow colors, 15"X15". Durable cotton fabric. +project updates +solar water heater instructions.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more
    About $30 USD

    10 backers

    Spanking new red, green and yellow YWI logo emblazoned on a black or gray T-shirt. Reverse says: Inventors who Inspire. Stories that empower. + project updates.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more
    About $50 USD

    6 backers

    Handheld corn sheller used by 15,000 Tanzanians and signed by Bernard Kiwia + spanking new logo on black or gray T. Shell your corn in style. + project updates.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more
    About $75 USD

    1 backer

    Autographed CD of the latest album by Just-A-Band, whose music drives our videos. [album was released months after JAB performed at SXSW] + digital download of select 2013 YWI videos + updates.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more
    About $75 USD

    1 backer Limited (29 left of 30)

    Rob Salkowitz’ autographed book Young World Rising - this book inspired YWI's name + digital download of select 2013 YWI videos + updates.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Only United States
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more
    About $100 USD

    7 backers Limited (23 left of 30)

    A low-power solar lamp, five times as bright as a kerosene lamp, which scar countless kids, for camping or patio, distributed by Global Cycle Solutions. + digital download of select 2013 YWI videos + updates.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $225 or more
    About $225 USD

    3 backers Limited (17 left of 20)

    A deluxe high-power solar lamp for camping or patio, which also charges most phones + DVD & digital download of select 2013 YWI videos + personally selected African art/craft.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more
    About $300 USD

    0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)

    A personalized tune (name/event) recorded by Just-a-Band, for perpetual download. These talented Kenyans are multi-talented artists (photographer, cartoon/animator, music video makers) and afrotechnopop band that really rock (as well as teach teen girls computer skills) + digital download of select 2013 YWI videos.

    Estimated delivery:
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more
    About $1,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (8 left of 8)

    Bronze Sponsor: You or your company will be listed on our website, with a link. We will tweet our thanks to you and post your link on our Facebook page. + T-shirt +DVD + updates. Join the company of collaborators like D-Lab and AITI at MIT, Engineering for Change,, Timbuktu Chronicles, AISE, Afrinnovator, International Development Design Summit who support innovative social enterprise.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Ships anywhere in the world
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more
    About $1,500 USD

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Executive Advisor: mention on website, FB and Twitter with a day on location in Africa, shooting with the YWI team. + DVD/digital version of 2013 YWI videos + deluxe solar lamp for camping/patio. (travel not included)

    Estimated delivery:
  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more
    About $2,500 USD

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Just a Band, the "techno-afropop-garageband" compose the music in our videos. JAB in real life celebrate cross cultural diversity and empower girls by teaching computer skills. Be the benefactor of JAB and YWI with the credit, "Original music was underwritten by YOU". + signed CD collection by JAB +YWI DVD + mention on website, FB and Twitter + updates

    Estimated delivery:
  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $6,500 or more
    About $6,500 USD

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    A three person Young World Inventors crew will produce a 3-5 minute video about your innovative company and/or device. Directed by Diane Hendrix, shot and edited by Carson Lund, award winning filmmaker (Emerson College 2013) who edited our KS video above. Carson's band (about to release their fourth album) can also compose the infectious music for your video. (travel not included)

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (34 days)