MS2C (Mobile Skills to Cash) is essentially an Application platform that connects young Nigerians willing to provide services or products to Companies or Individuals who need those services, as well NGOs and Government bodies focused on skill acquisition, extension services or SME funding. The young folks can interact via sms or smart phone clients.”
Fab-Ukozor Somto Sharon, recently won the ITU Young Innovators contest. She was in Geneva, Switzerland with other young innovators from across the world where she presented her MS2C idea and emerged winner of the prestigious contest.
Sommie as she is popularly called is a young vivacious and intuitive young lady who is committed to exploring new ways the ICT can be used as an advocacy tool for youth development and empowerment. She has been a keen volunteer at Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) FUTO Campus where she served both as assistant technical director and project head for “Making C.E.O Project”.
In this interview with Grace Ihejiamaizu, Sommie shares her passion and idea to change the world as well as her experience with ITU 2011.
How are you today Sommie?
I am doing great, thank you.
How was your experience at the ITU Conference? How did you get to know about the contest?
My experience was both exciting and memorable. It was a stimulating programme with rich networking opportunities. I enjoyed meeting and making friends with other 29 Young Innovators and learning from their ideas and exchanging stories with people from different backgrounds, orientation and race. The facilitators and mentors were awesome, the whole exercise from story-boarding, to forming personas and limiting our powerpoint slides to specified maximum number and words. It was exciting and informative.
Your MS2C project won and was selected for funding. What is MS2C and how would you use the grant?
MS2C (Mobile Skills to Cash) is essentially an Application platform that connects young Nigerians willing to provide services or products to Companies or Individuals who need those services, as well NGOs and Government bodies focused on skill acquisition, extension services or SME funding. The young folks can interact via sms or smart phone clients.
What inspired you to develop the MS2C Project?
I found out that every year our Nigerian Universities graduate over a hundred thousand students without provision for them in the labour market and most of these people have skills but do not know how to use it in the present economic state of the country, so they rather engage in social vices or migrate to big cities causing over-population. So I was inspired to develop this project, to link these youths, undergraduates inclusive and empower them. As you know I belong to this generation, I am a graduating student from the FUTO where I studied Elect/Elect Engineering, and majored in Communication Engineering.
What are some of the technologies you used to develop the MS2C Project?
The main application is being developed in Java (J2ME,J2EE).
As history has shown us, for a technological development to be truly successful, it must have a good business potential; can you briefly describe the business model behind the MS2C technology?
Initially I was mainly focusing on solving a need, but part of what I learnt during the ITU Conference is the emphasis on the business side – “the numbers” as the Venture Capitalists would say. Yes there is a business model that will ensure the project’s sustainability. We ensured that it’s a Win-win for all the stakeholders, most of the cost will be borne by the companies who would need the services, adverts will also provide some funding, but we will try to keep the cost very low for the target beneficiaries – youths like me.
Over 500,000 young graduates will be thrown into the largely inadequate Nigerian job market, many will join about 25m others without jobs. If this effort is able to provide opportunities to a 100 youths, that in my humble opinion will make a difference. And if my story inspires a few others to take similar initiatives, then it can only get better. If the idle young men and women are positively engaged in their states of residence, we will have less people who resort to vices and who knows, we may reduce rural urban migration.
Do you have plans to have the MS2C application for platforms like android, apple and blackberry?
Yes of course, the SMS-based is the first stage for dumb phones which are incidentally the majority, but consequently client instances will be deployed for the major smart phone and tablet devices.
As an emerging young Software programmer, what should we expect from you in the not too distant future?
*breathes out* expect more innovation. I should be doing a Masters, I will continue to hone my skills and seek to get better in other to be able to positively affect as many lives as I can.
What advice would you give to young people?
It is obvious that the generations before us are not providing any real assurances for our future, it is up to us. A piece of advice I got from a mentor which I wish to share is that, while in tertiary school, have a “portfolio” for skills, pick up as many skills as you can because when you graduate, it will be that portfolio that will differentiate you from the millions that have graduate certificates like you.
Thank You Sommie for your time and all the best.
Thank you for having me.
You can Follow Sommie on Twitter: @sfabukozor