Category Archives: Food for thought

The time is now!

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Two iconic women took the stage on Saturday 5th December with their powerful talks. Both Mona Eltahawy, Egyptian-American journalist and activist and Lindiwe Mazibuko,youngest-ever parliamentary leader in South Africa each unique in delivery, varied in aspect but linked in thought provoking essence. Urging us all to be active. Watch, digest and get moving. #VisionToReality

Mona Eltahawy is an award winning Egyptian-American journalist. She is writer, activist and public speaker on Arab, Muslim issues and global feminism. While covering the protests in Eygpt in November 2011, she was physically and sexually assaulted and detained by interior ministry and military intelligence.
Mona became an icon of the Egyptian revolution and her piece “Why Do They Hate Us?” became a viral sensation, followed by her book “Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution.”

 

Lindiwe Mazibuko was until recently the Leader of the Opposition in the South African National Assembly, making her the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) youngest-ever parliamentary leader and the first black woman in South African history to be elected to the post of Leader of the Opposition. Mazibuko has committed herself to making Parliament the true centre of robust political debate and engagement in South Africa. On the TEDxEuston stage her commitment shone as the TEDxuston audience were enthralled by her powerful talk. She stated that Africa has a problem of nicely polished policies without implementation. She made a case for young people not to be disgusted with politics but get in there and be the change we believe. She said: ‘Remittance isn’t enough for the diaspora who want to give back. They must also share their skills and experience with Africa. Your country and continent needs you. Not later… Now!”

 

From Germany to Nigeria – Mark Essien talks leverage

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Mark Essien is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria-based Hotels.ng, an online hotel-booking agency, which is the first and largest of its kind in Nigeria. Since establishing Hotels.ng in 2013, Mark has overseen the growth of hotel listings on the platform from just over 100 at launch to over 7,000 hotels al over Nigeria with millions of transactions every year.

At TEDxEuston 2015 Mark eloquently and seamlessly took the audience on his journey, how he started in Germany and took the leap to Nigeria to run Hotelsng. He discussed the difficulties and pitfalls of running a business and shared some of the stories he learnt along the way.

Creativity & Corruption – we can learn from both

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Robtel Neajai Pailey is a Liberian academic, activist and author with over a decade of combined professional experiences in Africa, Europe and North America.

Robtel is the author of Gbagba, an anti-corruption children’s book published in 2013 to critical acclaim and subsequently placed on the list of supplemental readers for 3rd to 5th graders in Liberia. Robtel’s determination and bold ambition to challenge the status quo was evident as she spoke to an engaged audience at TEDxEuston 2015. She eloquently discussed her ‘bloodless revolution’ to fight Gbabgba (corruption) in Liberia. She states that corruption is not just about private or public sector graft but also about dubious ways in which we all cheat the system. She reminds us all that there is nothing inherently African about corruption.

 

Ije Nwokorie joined Wolff Olins in 2006, one of the world’s most influential brand businesses. He is presently its Chief Executive Officer of creative consultancy. Born in America, Ije spent his early years in Nigeria, an experience he credits with underpinning his creative outlook, as he believes it is a world where commerce, culture and creativity are necessarily intertwined in every day life. The TEDxEuston 2015 audience was treated to Ije creative outlook and focus on the power of creativity! Ije discussed the power of creativity (akon’uche) linking it to his upbringing as an Igbo man. He explores how management is most celebrated, and creativity is relegated to the few but strenuously argues that “Creativity belongs to us all…but is in stark contrast to how we think of creativity in the industrialized world”

 

Social Media can change the world

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It’s been brewing for a while, but on Saturday 5th December it was confirmed: “News is dead, long live notifications”

Christian Purefoy, a multimedia and digital specialist, thrilled the audience with his entertaining TEDxEuston talk. Charting his transition from a CNN correspondent to his current position as a Director at BattaBox.com, the honorary Yoruba Chief walks us through the innovative, youth-driven means of translating ideas and discussing topical issues. His humorous talk demonstrates how social media continues to relegate traditional reporting to the back-burner as young Africans find new, pioneering ways to narrate their own story.

Wise words from Nancy Kacungira and Chi-Chi Nwanoku MBE

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New year and the new set of TEDxEuston videos are being released across TEDx YouTube channel. Time for the world to experience what we all shared  at Vision To Reality on that special Saturday in December 2015.

First up is Nancy Kacungira. Nancy has many accolades including entrepreneur and award- winning journalist. A US State Department Professional Fellow, and the winner of the inaugural BBC World News Komla Award. In 2010 she also co-founded Blu Flamingo; a digital media management company that has now grown to manage an impressive roster of clients in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Her ambition and clarity of thought came to fore on the TEDxEuston 2015 stage. She wasted no time in succinctly urging the audience not to point fingers to international media for not covering African news fairly, when African media are not covering it fairly themselves. Nancy looks at the African narratives and argues that we should move away from narratives and have dialogues. Narratives makes you a subject, dialogue makes you a participant, she said.

 

Chi-Chi Nwanoku MBE is the Founder, Artistic Director of Chineke!, Europe’s first classical orchestra of Black and Ethnic Minority musicians and is also the Principal Double bassist and founder of the Orchestra of the Age of Entertainment. Chi-chi is a professor of Double Bass History Studies at the Royal Academy of Music and was made a Fellow there in 1998. Chi-chi gracefully opened the TEDxEuston 2015 stage. She declared we are all born musicians; everyone of us has a heartbeat connected to something. It was a privilege for the audience to hear her personal journey through her early introduction to music and her experiences as a black women in the classical music industry. She narrates how she is fighting the good fight to bring diversity to the classical world and encourages the audience to “Never be afraid of a challenge”.

#myTEDxEustonstory – Ike Anya

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Ike Anya – TEDxEuston co-founder

Ten years ago this month, sitting in my office in Bristol, one morning, I got a text from my younger brother.  We had heard earlier that a Sosoliso Airlines plane had crashed in Port Harcourt and that all the people on board were feared dead. As I scrolled through Nigerian news websites, frantically searching for more news, my phone beeped. His best friend, Okoloma Maduewesi had been on the plane, together with his nephew Chibuzo Kamanu, who was one of a group of secondary school students from Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja heading home to Port Harcourt for the Christmas holidays.

Because I had grown up with Okoloma, had seen him almost as a younger brother and had held Chibuzo in my arms, merely days after he was born, a visceral anguish and anger seized me. Anger that increased as I read about how long it had taken to mount a rescue effort; how there had been no water for the fire engines at the airport. In my grief and anger I attacked my keyboard, bashing out a polemic article, “Why are We Crying, We are all Guilty”, in which I laid the blame for the crash and the state of our country on the doorstep of all Nigerian citizens.

The article, initially published on a couple of Nigerian websites seemed to have struck a deep chord, unleashing an outpouring of responses from Nigerians all over the world, many agreeing with me, others attacking me for laying the blame at their door. A Nigerian in New York, Emeka Okafor, who had a blog, the Timbuktu Chronicles: Africa Unchained, contacted me, asking if he could reproduce the article on his website. I agreed and we exchanged emails and kept vaguely in touch.

A year or so later, he forwarded an email from an organisation called TED who were organizing a conference in Arusha in Tanzania; and who as part of that conference were seeking to identify 100 African Fellows to take part. I forwarded the email to my networks, and decided to apply. In the end, my friend and colleague Chikwe Ihekweazu and I were selected and our journey to TED Global in Arusha began.

In Arusha, we were blown away by the talks, by four days of remarakable Africans telling their stories of doing groundbreaking things – law student Ory Okolloh setting up Mzalendo to shine a light on the proceedings of the Kenyan Parliament, Eleni Gabre Madhin leaving the World Bank to set up Ethiopia’s first commodities exchange, Patrick Awuah leaving Microsft to set up Ashesi, Ghana’s first liberal arts college; Dele Olojede, first  African to win the Pulitzer Prize; Binyavanga Wainaina and Chris Abani telling our stories. We were electrified.

Leaving Arusha, our first instinct was to abandon our specialist training programmes in the UK and return immediately to Nigeria, to begin to do, and not talk. When reason returned, we decided to stay in the UK and complete our programmes, but inspired by Ory’s example, using the internet, we set up Nigeria Health Watch, a blog aimed at increasing accountability in the Nigerian health system, hoping that we would be able to say the things that people in Nigeria might not be able to.

Setting up Nigeria Health Watch helped, but we still buzzed with the inspiration of Arusha, and we kept boring our families and friends with stories of Arusha. For months afterwards, our conversations were peppered with “In Arusha…” “At TED…” “do you remember in Arusha…?”

And so it was that when TED offered the opportunity in 2009 for past attendees to apply for licences to host TEDx events, one-day TED-like events, Chikwe suggested that we apply for one and try and recreate the experience of Arusha in London for our families and friends, and share the inspiration. The first event nearly broke us, juggling busy jobs with organising a conference for a hundred people on the back of our credit cards, unsure if anyone would agree to speak, if anyone would agree to come. But they did – from journalist Funmi Iyanda to former minister Nasir El-Rufai to health publisher Bryan Pearson, to writer Chika Unigwe, they came and shared their stories. And there was an audience of a hundred people to listen, even if Chikwe, my brother Nazo and I had had to arrange the chairs in the room when we arrived at the venue at University College London in Euston; having spent the preceding night in a cheap hotel room in Euston, making up delegate packs and sorting out name badges.

Adaugo Amajuoyi, a medical student and Chikwe’s cousin was in charge of registration with Ifeanyi Mbanefo, a colleague from the Health Protection Agency. When the conference ended at about 8pm that Saturday night, people refused to leave. In clusters, they stood around in the hall continuing the conversations sparked by the speakers’ talks. Two of the attendees, Paddy Anigbo and Felicia Meyerowitz approached us and asked, “When is the next one?” We had not thought that far, and in any case the stress of delivering just one conference had been significant, and so we laughed. They were insistent, and volunteered to help organize the next one, and so the TEDxEuston dream was born.

Over the years, we grew into an event attended by over 600 people, which has sold out every year, supported by a team of passionate volunteers, becoming a significant voice for Africa on the global stage.  We hosted some of Africa’s finest minds, inspiring fresh new ideas and debates, and built an amazing community of regular attendees, volunteers, team members and supporters.

Each year has been a challenge, from raising sponsorship to juggling the organisation with other multiple competing demands, but at the end of each conference, the number of people who came back, saying how much it has inspired them, how gratifying it is to attend a well-organised African-led event has pushed us to go on.

We have now hosted 7 main events, 4 salon events with 80 speakers, with their talks viewed 3.2 million times online.
We have built a community of friends and supporters bound together by the TEDxEuston experience and our commitment and passion to a better African continent

What has kept us going?

It’s been Arnold Ekpe, former chief executive of Ecobank and chairman of Atlas Mara’s comment in 2011 – “I have been attending conferences on Africa since my undergraduate days, but never before have I felt the kind of energy that I am feeling in this room now”
It’s been Chimamanda Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists being sampled on Beyonce’s album and now being distributed to every sixteen year old in Sweden
It’s been senior corporate executive Dolika Banda saying that TEDxEuston had led her to re-evaluate her life’s goals
It’s been the several other untold stories, the emails, the phone calls and messages from Africans all over the world. The woman saying attending TEDxEuston conference for 4 years inspired her to move back to Africa after 20 years in the UK; The second-generation African immigrants saying, watching the talks helped them reconnect with their heritage. The young people in Africa saying “Watching your talks has given me fresh hope”. They are the reason we have continued, against all odds.

This year, at our 7th event, we welcomed on stage Kechi Okwuchi, one of only two survivors of the Sosoliso plane crash. She spoke with eloquence and a deep wisdom, and there was a sense of a circle being closed.

These are experiences that we have been privileged to share and why, when we announced on stage this year that due to financial challenges, this was likely to be the last TEDxEuston, we were engulfed by a sense of loss.

But we are also conscious that TEDxEuston is more than an event; that its spirit is alive in the community of people connected by a shared vision and willingness to work for a better Africa; by the change that is happening on the continent even in the face of enormous challenges.

Which is why we are asking you to share your TEDxEuston story with us.
This is #myTEDxEustonstory – what’s yours?

Go ahead and share your own #myTEDxEustonstory widely on Facebook and Twitter and we will share it further.

Please tag @tedxeuston when you share so we know.

 

7 Reasons why we curate TEDxEuston

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To celebrate our 7th year, read below 7 reasons why Adaugo Amajuoyi, Amina Abonde-Adigun and Ifediba Nwokedi (commonly known as AAI among the team) co-curate TEDxEuston and help put together our great event each year.


The joys of being a TEDxEuston curator are varied – you have to be able to juggle many hats, have an intense passion and generally prepared for anything. There are many reasons why its so great to curate TEDxEuston. However, to keep things simple we’ll focus on seven reasons as follows:


1. It is a labour of love, dedication and passion for Africa.

I have followed the inception of TEDxEuston since 2009 and admired the Foundation Boards dedication to make it happen year after year. Curating and managing a project like TEDxEuston requires lots of effort and sheer dedication. Sometimes you are surprised to find out how much more you can give at any given moment if you are passionate about what you are doing. TEDxEuston is definitely a labour of love for us as co-curators! There is no better reward than the success we see year after year, speakers making breakthroughs in their endeavours and more importantly the community sharing how much support they have received or feeling motivated to follow their dream to do more in Africa.


2. The team is a family of highly passionate individuals with a lot of energy

A big positive is having one of the best teams you could ever have for any project. TEDxEuston is a voluntary organization where nobody makes a profit. Therefore, the team are focused on creating the best experience for the TEDxEuston community who have come to love the event year after year.

I feel privileged to work with an amazing team of people from all walks of life and various talents. As a curator it is a dream to guide and manage the hard work of such talented individuals. Our role is made easy when your team wants to deliver with pride. We also have great socials and vibe off each others ideas, creativity and ambitions. We definitely champion each other.

3. Together we choose the yearly themes and speakers.

Choosing the theme and potential speakers starts very early in the year with a final list presented and discussed in January, even though the event is in December. The 12 month process is very collaborative with the whole team being involved. This is what we love about curating with a dedicated team.

TEDxEuston team meetings are virtual due to the multiple countries and continents the team are based in. Our meetings are usually full of passionate debate, insightful moments and a clear vision at the end of the debate.


4. A year’s planning and logistics starts

As a curator this is the bulk of our duties and sometimes can be the difficult bit, but equally exciting. From January to January the curators and team attend lots of meetings with partners, venue providers, hotels, entertainers and much more. The leg work is worth it and at times the team have to motivate each other along the bumpy challenges. Keeping within our TEDxEuston motto:

“Where there is a will there is way.”
5. Partners make it happen with their support

The TEDxEuston partnerships are very important to deliver such an organised and inspiring event. Our partners’ support allows TEDxEuston to be an affordable event for many and not just for a few.

Furthermore, partnerships allow the TEDxEuston community to gain direct access to expert knowledge and innovative ventures that shape our daily experiences and socio economic development. As a curator, we love working with partners who are dedicated to supporting our ethos of promoting African ideas worth spreading.


6. The speakers are confirmed and the excitement rises.

When we get to this point – we know its all systems go! Our job is to give the speakers the best possible experience to be able to deliver the best talk they can give to the discerning TEDxEuston community. It is also a great pleasure to support talented individuals through the rather exposing process of giving a TED talk. You’ll be surprised how many seasoned public speakers get nervous like many of us would!

7. The TEDxEuston community make it all worth while.

It may sound cliché but the most important reason we love curating TEDxEuston is to see how inspired the community is about attending TEDxEuston.
On that one Saturday, Africa is present and united in one place once a year, every year. Sharing and challenging the narrative of their individual countries. We will be overjoyed if we eventually have all 54 countries in the house one day.

TEDxEuston is an African family!

An event that really can change your life…

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In less than two weeks’ time, Blackfriars will play host once again to one of London’s best
African events of the year –  TEDxEuston: the only TEDx conference outside of the continent to be exclusively about Africa.

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Sitting in front of my keyboard in sunny Abuja, I reflect on the excitement, the admiration and incredible sense of anticipation I felt at last year’s conference and thinking what a difference a year can make. At TEDxEuston’s conference last year I was inspired by each of the speakers and belief that I could make a difference in Africa deepened and strengthened with every passing speech. From the motivational talks of the likes of Sunday Oliseh, Zain AsherKene Mkparu and Fatima B Muhammad, to the gut-wrenchingly hilarious performance by Chigul and the thought-provoking ‘Conversations with Baba’ by Binyawanga Wainaina – all these talks made an impact.     16207787041_74e34b5d62_b

More than the talks though, it was the camaraderie of the TEDxEuston team, the sense that we (volunteers and team members alike) were all pulling together to put on something really special. The infectious satisfaction and happiness of the guests made this event truly special, not to mention the after-party!

In December 2014, I knew that the desire to follow my dreams and carve my path more clearly on the African continent had been birthed inside me. I knew of the potential of many countries in the continent and that my motivations, aspirations, talent and personality would chime with some of the countries on the continent, but I didn’t realise exactly how this could be manifested.

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Outside Channels TV station in Lagos

Fast forward one year and I’m a fully-fledged TEDxEuston team member and I am currently living and working in Nigeria. A myriad of reasons and circumstances have placed me here, but I am sure that the inner dream birthed in me at TEDxEuston 2014 has played a great role.

I realise that this may sound cliché and for those of you who are familiar with TEDxEuston, you will have heard this before. But TEDxEuston really has impacted my life choices. And I can tell you stories of others who have attended a TEDxEuston event and who have also altered their life courses as a result. All the TEDxEuston team, for example, are part of it because we believe in what it can achieve, and the impact it can have on people’s lives. Because for most of us, we have already had this moment.

So yes, I’m part of the TEDxEuston Organising Committee and so you probably expect me to say this. But I would urge you to just give it a try. TEDxEuston can be one of those events which is life-changing, path-shaping, connection-making and so on. Whether you’ve been before or not, come and be part of TEDxEuston this year.

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Eulette with TEDxEuston foundation board member, Paddy

Buy a ticket here and throw yourself into the whole experience on Saturday 5th December. Strike up conversations with TEDxEuston team members, or with other attendees over lunch. Go and talk to the speakers directly to hear more of their stories, let your hair down on the dance floor at the afterparty, and most importantly go with an open mind. You never know what may happen.

 

Eulette Ewart is a TEDxEuston team member and jointly leads TEDxEuston communications. As a communications professional who has specialised in human rights and sustainable development across the continent, Eulette now lives and works in Nigeria. 

Special TEDxEuston Moments

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In truth, you never know what that special moment will be for you at TEDxEuston, when the tears start rolling down and you glance around to check if you are the only one. Or the occasions when a talk resonates so much with you that you stand up over a standing “O” until your neighbour pulls you back down to your feet. Attendees have come back to us years after with testimonies of how that ONE talk at TEDxEuston made them find the strength to execute on an idea that was always there, or how they found the courage to chart a completely new course. Sometimes it’s the speaker – like – Cobham’s Asuquo’s beautiful and powerful talk “The Gift of Blindness”, sometimes it’s the music like N’tabiseng’s unforgettable rendition of her song “Print of my Heart”, and sometimes it is the person sitting next to you.

 

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But most times, it’s the combination of all this, add the after-party to the mix and you have a pulsating day for the mind and body.

TEDxEuston is always curated in that spirit – in the spirit of sitting together under iroko trees like our fore fathers did, sharing communion. It is much more than the normal event with a few powerpoint slides telling us what the future holds.

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At TEDxEuston we curate an event by us, for us and of us. Even in those moments where there are small technical problem with the microphone or slides, we forgive, because we know, that while we are not perfect, we always strive to produce the best event for us.

Do something special for yourself this December. Get one of the last tickets here.

7 reasons why you should buy a TEDxEuston ticket

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We’re now 4 weeks away from the big day and the baton has been ceremoniously handed over to me. This week I’m taking you through 7 reasons why you should buy your TEDxEuston ticket! You ready? Sure? Ok…  

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1. The Experience

It’s nothing like watching in online. Trust me.  As a self-proclaimed YouTube connoisseur, there’s nothing I love more than coming home, crawling into bed and pressing play. This is precisely how I discovered TEDxEuston in 2012. After attending my first event the following year, I walked home in a state of hypnosis. My Häagen-Dazs supported, YouTube facilitated, TEDxEuston marathons hadn’t prepared me for the energy in the room. There’s a ‘buzz’ that nobody can quite describe – it’s in the laughter, the applause, even the silence. You’ll feel it and it will compel you to run with that idea.

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2. The Theme

Talking of ‘running with ideas’, this year, we’re taking you from ‘Vision to Reality’. We’ve based our theme loosely around the now famous quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach: “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs Dreamers who Do.” What’s better than an auditorium filled with practical dreamers?

‘Great speakers’ I hear you say? Well…

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3. The Speakers

This year, another awesome line-up of speakers will grace the TEDxEuston stage. From entrepreneurs, to journalists to renowned healthcare professionals, our handpicked selection of inspiring speakers are sure to keep you captivated throughout the day.

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4. The Goody Bags

I refuse to accept that I’m alone in loving goody bags so this is my shameless Number 4. My CDC USB carried me and my two dissertations through to the finish line. My portable charger from Shell saved me from taking the wrong exit on the A406. My trusty container of TEDxEuston mints accompanied me through the best and worst times. You get my point. Goody bags are an awesome memento for the day and we’ve partnered with some great organisations this year so expect the unexpected!

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5. The Conversations

At TEDxEuston, you come with your name and your vision. We remove all self-imposed hierarchical barriers and provide the optimum conditions for real, memorable, conversations between people from all walks of life. We don’t stand around in familiar clusters, nor do we frantically race around with business cards. We talk, we exchange ideas, and we plant seeds.

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6. The Community

From the moment you receive the email confirmation, you become a member of the TEDxEuston Community. We hold each other to account, and organise smaller events during the year to revisit conversations and track our progress. I’m working on a project based on my TEDxEustonPledge last year – I know the same is true for many. In this way, the value of TEDxEuston transcends far beyond the hours we spend together on a given day.

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7. The After-Party

Now, there are after-parties, and there are TEDxEuston after-parties. We need to be very careful to differentiate the two. In cases of the former, attendance in usually optional – in the latter, it’s mandatory. Here, we celebrate the earthshattering talks we’ve heard throughout the day and release some of that creative energy we’ve been storing up since registration. When the serious old school drops, all born after 1985 are forced to take judicious notes on the sidelines. We do so respectfully until the intro of ‘Candy’ forces everyone back into action.

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If you leave feeling both exhausted and exhilarated, you’ve been to TEDxEuston.  

But these are just words. Come and experience it for yourself…

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Nancy Adimora is a TEDxEuston team member, working primarily within the Partnerships team. She is passionate about exploring alternative means of development through social innovation and hopes to bridge infrastructural gaps through entrepreneurial exploits in the future.