“By interacting and sharing ideas with students and faculty here, I will develop a more global view which is integral in coming up with solutions to current problems in Kenya, and in Africa as a whole.”What are your short term and long term professional goals? I aim to gain knowledge and opportunities while at UC Berkeley. This will be possible through coursework such as the MEng capstone project, where I will work with students and supervisors to develop specialized medical devices. Furthermore, I aim to take advantage of the various incubators and accelerators present in the Fung ecosystem in order to innovate and grow various start-ups. In the long term, I plan to return to Kenya. My return to Kenya is fueled by the fact that more than 10,000 Kenyans travel abroad annually to receive healthcare, spending about $100 million. This is as a result of a lack of specialized medical equipment, resulting in long waiting periods and increased costs. Upon returning, I will support hospitals with modern medical devices, thereby reducing medical costs for Kenyans. Additionally, in Kenya, the ratio of doctors to patients is 1:16000. This is in contrast to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 1:1000. Therefore, many Kenyans, especially those in rural areas, are not able to receive specialized healthcare. I plan to cross-cut technology and healthcare in order to provide telemedicine services from satellite clinics. Individuals in remote areas will receive consultations through online video services, and in cases requiring medical operations they can then be referred to hospitals equipped with our quality devices. What are some of your non-academic hobbies/passions, and how, if at all, have they inspired your professional goals? I have a passion for entrepreneurship. I aim to use my knowledge to begin and run multiple successful companies that would create job opportunities and improve economies while providing value. Therefore, graduate school proved a good opportunity to learn from experienced professors and professionals who could give guidance on the best practices and opportunities. On a lighter note, I am interested in the arts, especially singing. I have written and performed a few songs and this acts as my pastime, taking the edge off of the rigors of life. I look forward to exploring it as well during my time here at Berkeley. Is there something you are currently working on that you would like to share? Currently, I am working with fellow students on a start-up called EcoWaks. It addresses trade payment delays that I encountered while running my company, Eco Makaa, back in Kenya. EcoWaks provides early trade payment to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), providing services/goods on credit to larger companies. SMEs are the main suppliers of essential goods to various industries, and are subject to trade credit systems. The deficit in cash flow inhibits their efficient operation and growth. 40% of SMEs in developing countries have unmet financial need yearly. This is exacerbated in Africa, which has a trade finance gap of $81 billion USD. We aim to release the cash flow for the suppliers, while providing the procuring companies with benefits such as dynamic discounting. Interesting fact: In 2015, I formed a community-based club in Kenya. The club recruited 6 volunteers to teach Information Technology and coding to 47 underprivileged pupils in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. I also partnered with Moringa School, a coding institution, to provide free coding lessons to the pupils by sending volunteers who used government-sponsored computers to teach. Connect with Cecil Chikezie Edited by Danielle Vasquez and Ella Rochelle-Lawton
2021 Mastercard Foundation Scholarship Recipient: Cecil Chikezie, MEng ’22 (BioE) was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.