Kayode Malomo wasn’t worried when he and a group of colleagues touring Sierra Leone nearly missed their flight back to the U.S. after a technology glitch.
Growing up in Nigeria rendered the 32-year-old familiar with the challenges that exist in much of Africa. Though he isn’t from Sierra Leone, he felt a sense of being at home there,
An aerial view of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone
and he knew his group would make it back to the U.S. one way or another.
Kayode’s experience during the tour did, however, inspire Atlas Communications, a telecommunications company incorporated in the U.S. and Sierra Leone dedicated to providing phone and increasing Internet penetration in the West African country.
When Kayode and his business partners toured Sierra Leone in 2007, the Internet reached only 13,900 of the 8 million people who live there.
So he and his partner, who is also his boss at the accounting firm he works for in Philadelphia, were able to raise $2 million from investors to establish Atlas Communications.
“The big part for us is the social impact and the opportunity to bridge the digital divide between Sierra Leone and the rest of the world,” said Kayode, who recently earned a 2010 African and Caribbean Business Council Award for Entrepreneurship and a City of Philadelphia citation for his achievements. Gov. Ed Rendell and seven African and Caribbean ambassadors attended the ceremony.
Though the typical image of Sierra Leone depicts the country as a war-torn and dangerous nation, Kayode and his colleagues saw the seeds of development and opportunity there and felt it was the perfect place to affect change through their company.
Currently, Kayode lives in Philadelphia with his wife and 16-month-old son and works as chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing for the National Business Service Center in addition to co-managing Atlas Communications.
He juggles his responsibilities by following his father’s advice to stay focused and to balance all aspects of life, including his love of painting.
Kayode also loves to painstakingly weave colors together in the hope of creating a brighter world
Kayode used to travel the 4,362 miles to Sierra Leone every few months to oversee Atlas’ 35 employees, but now that the Internet has a stronger backbone there, he uses Skype to communicate with them.
The firm currently reaches a few hundred people through clients that include Internet cafes, the University of Sierra Leone and nonprofits.
After he obtains his MBA in 2012, Kayode envisions himself using his skills to establish a global business-consulting firm that will provide opportunities to low-income and minority entrepreneurs.
“There’s a void there for me to fill,” he said. “I see myself as a global citizen.”
— Morgan Zalot
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