I first met Arielle Kitio Tsamo at the second edition of the Women in Africa event in Marrakech in September 2018. She was representing Cameroon. At 26 years old, this young entrepreneur with a PhD in software engineering is on track to change the way we see new technologies in Cameroon thanks to her startup, called Caysti, which was officially launched in February 2017. She’s also the ambassador of the Next Einstein Forum.
Arielle and I had never had an opportunity to run into each other in the streets of Douala or Yaoundé, so when we met in Morocco it gave me a chance to find out more about her company and discover what drives her. In the media, we see lots of men but few women who have tech companies. We begin to believe that this sector is reserved for men, but Arielle Kitio Tsamo is here to remind us that technology has no colour or gender. So today I’d like to introduce you to her.
CAYSTI stands for Cameroon Youth School Tech Incubator, and is a technological innovation centre aimed at young people aged from 10 to 19 years old. Today, the digital revolution is enabling us to erase inequality and build projects for the future. “With CAYSTI, we want to share our passion for new technologies with teenagers so that they can use them to find solutions to our society’s problems”, she explains. For Arielle, digital inclusion is one of our era’s egalitarian levers because it can make all races, genders and languages equal. In a fast-moving world, it is essential to inspire a passion for science and technology in as many people as possible so that minorities aren’t excluded from these opportunities. “At CAYSTI we focus on the user rather than the technology. Our curriculum is customised and in line with the student’s requirements. The aim is to know what each child likes and doesn’t like”, she adds.
Arielle Kitio Tsamo wants to make digital technology in Cameroon and across Africa more inclusive by making sure women and the languages of the various ethnic minorities are not excluded. The company currently has four main activities:
Via regular and customised practical training based on a critical-thinking and problem-solving approach, CAYSTI provides its students with real skills in creative programming, robotics and project management.
AI – Challenge
This is a tripartite creativity activity during which children aged from 8 to 15, their families and education officials demystify technological concepts and learn to use Artificial Intelligence tools to solve actual problems.
Orientation and mentoring
With a personalised mentoring system supported by virtual reality tools, CAYSTI creates opportunities, positive attitudes and leadership attitudes that allow its students to engage and excel in science and technology professions and stand out in local and international competitions.
The company’s main product, the one it is best known for, is its abcCode (the Art of Boosting Creativity). It is the very first ‘vernacular’ language programming environment. It’s a fun and intuitive coding software package based on a student-centric customised learning programme that develops creativity and provides children with an easy initiation to creative programming. Any child who has a computer at home can use it.
Throughout our chat, Arielle Kitio Tsamo is eager to emphasise that there is a whole team behind her business. Together, their objective is to train 100,000 young people by 2020.
The challenges are always the same, of course: the mindset of the children, parents and education system who have trouble understanding their company’s approach and don’t always see the point of having education that is tailored to the child. However, after two years they are beginning to grasp the immense opportunities new technologies can offer for our continent’s socio-economic development.
Challenges are an integral part of the life of an entrepreneur. Arielle Kitio Tsamo is aware of this, and she has 5 secrets for young people who want to be and do like her: Passion, Sharing, Perseverance, Positivity and People.