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Catching up with Ndakuna

Ndakuna Fonso Amidou
One year on after becoming 2016’s number one Rare Rising Star, this year’s editor, Sarah Lusack, catches up with Ndakuna Fonso Amidou.

Ndakuna Fonso Amidou still marvels at claiming the top spot in last year’s Rare Rising Stars: “to be honest, I didn’t think of myself as doing anything out of the ordinary”. His humility might help to explain why Ndakuna does not feel like “much has changed” in the past year.

This could not be further from the truth. Ndakuna has almost finished his Oxford 1+1 MBA which has given him a strong foundation in the fundamentals of business. Ndakuna has used this knowledge to develop Centre de Santé HARDA, his healthcare clinic in Cameroon. Ndakuna founded the clinic, with £3,000 of his own money, in order to address the lack of access to healthcare in rural areas. Over nine years, Centre de Santé has grown and Ndakuna now employs more than 25 healthcare professionals and helps over 100 individuals per day. Over the past year, Ndakuna has been working tirelessly on plans to expand the clinic’s coverage to the whole of Cameroon. As soon as he obtains enough resources, he plans to move back to Cameroon and run the clinic full-time.

Inspired by his MSc in Social Science of the Internet, Ndakuna has travelled across technology hubs in Africa investigating how technology can be used to improve healthcare. He has also been working on a prototype for rapid diagnostic tests for Ebola with fellow MBA students at Oxford. The aim is to commercialise the test and sell it to governments and international institutions such as the World Health Organisation.

The lessons Ndakuna has learnt from his travels have informed his perspective on Rare Rising Stars. In a world that is moving towards building upon networks and ecosystems, it becomes increasingly important for black people “to come together as a small community and celebrate good things”. The visibility of the Stars affirms the importance of their work but also has a powerful influence on those around them. Ndakuna’s young nieces and nephews “want to be like uncle now” which helps to reassure him that he is on the right path.

Reflecting on the overwhelming response to the award, Ndakuna feels “challenged to be even better now”. We are fortunate to have access to far more resources and opportunities than ever before. However, for today’s changemakers, the challenge lies in adeptly using these opportunities. Ndakuna advises young people to assess which opportunities are best for them to pursue and to spend time on what will benefit them most. As Ndakuna says, “devise a plan, work towards it and believe in yourself.”