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BY Abu Mubarik, 9:00am December 27, 2021,

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Google AI Research Scientist Timnit Gebru speaks onstage during Day 3 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at Moscone Center on September 7, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Despite all the negative and heartbreaking stories in 2021 as well as the pandemic, there were quite some heartwarming moments in the year.

From individuals who were able to get over terrible situations to those who overcame disease or grief, 2021 has had its share of inspirational stories. 

Here at Face2Face Africa, we covered quite a number of the uplifting stories of Black people across the world.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Will Adoasi, founder of Vitae London watches, with British business magnate Richard Branson. Image via Blacknews

William Adoasi helps fund the education of 5,000 kids in Africa

William Adoasi is a British-Ghanaian entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, fashion designer, philanthropist, and the CEO of the innovative watch brand Vitae London. His watch brands have been sold in some 30 countries and for every watch he sells, a fraction of the money goes into educational resources to underprivileged children across sub-Saharan Africa.

Adoasi’s watch brand recently hit over $1 million in sales and also supported over 5,000 children through education in Africa.

Prior to starting his watch business, Adoasi worked as a recruiting consultant. He had his first job in sales after his A level but dropped out of university at the age of 19 to start his first business, a sports academy called Starlight Sports Academy funded by a government initiative.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Timnit Gebru. GETTY IMAGES

Ethiopia’s Timnit Gebru set up research institute after being fired by Google

Ethiopia’s Timnit Gebru is a prominent artificial intelligence computer scientist who was fired by Google for bringing to the fore issues she felt were being sidelined by the tech giant. She was fired for a research paper “critiquing Google’s lucrative AI work on large language models, which can help answer conversational search queries.”

A year after being fired, Gebru has set up the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR) and has received $3.7 million in funding from the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Kapor Center, Open Society Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

DAIR has been built from the start to include and emphasize diverse perspectives and question the processes used at companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook/Meta, according to Techcrunch. Its focus will be on publishing academic papers.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Attorney Shymane Robinson. Photo: BlackBusiness

Shymane Robinson made history as a lawyer

Shymane Robinson is a Chicago native, an attorney, founder, and entrepreneur. She is the founder of True Lawyer which also offers General Counsel to Cyprus Investments, LLC., a privately held investment company in Chicago. She started her law firm with both her best friend and sister.

She recently opened an office on the Southside of Chicago, making her the youngest Black lawyer to have a law firm office on that side of Chicago.

The 31-year-old is also the first in America to ever offer a Trademark Guarantee, according to Black Business, and her goal is to help Black businesses gain ownership of their brand and leverage their assets with real estate.

Aside from owning a law firm, Robinson is also a real estate investor. She created Build Your Own Wealth to provide real estate investors advice.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Danny Manu. Photo: BBC

Danny Manu developed wireless earbuds that can instantly translate 40 languages

Danny Manu, a Ghanaian-British man, developed earbuds that auto-translate other languages. According to Keepthefaith, the earbuds can live translate over 40 languages. The product, called Click, is said to be “the world’s first truly wireless earphones” with live voice translation supporting 40 languages.

The wireless Bluetooth headset works by pairing to a smartphone. The earbuds then automatically detect the language being spoken and provide a spoken translation within a sentence or two. Click does not require internet like similar inventions.

The device, which has been on the rise since its invention under the Mymanu brand, has won customers across Europe, U.S. and Asia. Manu tells Keepthefaith that the journey has been long and stressful, attributing his success to hard work and determination.

Manu built his business through self-financing. This was down to the challenges Black startups in the UK face in accessing capital or venture funding.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Squeegee boys Khalil, Leroy, Taetae and Keyon display Korner Boyz bottled water, a brand they developed with the help of mentors associated with the Maryland Institute College of Art. (Dan Rodricks / Baltimore Sun)

Korner Boyz Enterprises went from cleaning windshields to establishing their own bottled water company

All Black boys, Taetae, Leroy, Khalil, Keyon and Deauntae were making a living on the streets cleaning windshields.

They later established Korner Boyz Enterprises, a bottled water company. In 2019, they announced that there could be other products like flavored waters and sparkling water.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Photo: Forbes

Keisha Credit, serial entrepreneur hit millionaire status after leaving Microsoft

Keisha Credit is a serial entrepreneur who is not only making money for herself but is also paving the way for many more diverse entrepreneurs. She is the founder of Lucke by Keisha, a custom wig-making firm; Ego Centric Beauty, an organic hair care line and Super Lit apparel, a Christian t-shirt company.

Aside from these three businesses, she is also the founder of Keisha Credit coaching/consulting. In addition to her consulting business, Credit also became the CEO of a business that is in a local business accelerator, Jones and Foster. She also started running Paca Y Paca, which is an Artisan candle company that was just getting off the ground.

Prior to venturing into entrepreneurship, Credit left her work at Microsoft and she has never looked back. She said that while studying programming at the University of Washington, she started her first business venture—a house-painting company. “I wanted to create opportunities for my friends. I didn’t realize at the time I was acting like an entrepreneur,” she told the University of Washington Magazine. After graduating, she went to work for Microsoft, as her parents wanted.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Teacher Keishia Thorpe. Photo credit: Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

Jamaican-born teacher Keishia Thorpe wins $1 million Global Teacher Prize

A Jamaican-born teacher in Maryland won the annual $1 million Global Teacher Prize offered by the Varkey Foundation. Keishia Thorpe received the Global Teacher Prize at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization last month.

Thorpe was competing with 8000 teachers from 121 countries across the world for the coveted prize money. Thorpe teaches 12th-grade English at the International High School at Langley Park, in the Prince George’s County public school system. The majority of her students come from immigrant and refugee families.

She is the co-founder of U.S. Elite International Track and Field. The non-profit provides athletes from impoverished backgrounds a chance to compete internationally through scholarship programs, according to the Washington Post.

She first immigrated to the United States as a child for greener pastures. She and her twin sister were raised by their grandmother. Thorpe won a track and field scholarship to the United States and graduated from Howard University, an HBCU, in 2003 as a pre-law and English student. She decided to become a teacher after realizing the inequality in the American educational system. She could not comprehend why some schools were flourishing while others were not making the grades.

Thorpe has been teaching for 15 years. The Global Teacher Prize is not the first award for her in education. In 2018-2019, she won the National Life Changer of the Year award, which is given by the National Life Group.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Pierre Laguerre, Founder of Fleeting. Photo credit: Black Business

He left Haiti for U.S. and now owns a trucking company that has made $4M in revenue in 3 years

In the early 1990s, Pierre Laguerre decided to migrate to the United States from Haiti in search of economic opportunities when he was 15 years. His dream was to become a neurologist but Laguerre found himself in Brooklyn where gun violence was rife.

In 2015, Laguerre started a staffing agency for trucking companies. He hired workers, groomed them, and outsourced them to trucking companies that needed their services. Under 18 months of operation, he grew the revenue of the company to about $2.8 million.

It got to a point where Laguerre had more workers than the trucking companies needed. The entrepreneur decided to open his own trucking company and hire the excess labor. According to him, he scaled the business to over 26 trucks in a year and made over $1 million in revenue.

Recently, Fleeting received a seed round investment of $500,000 from Kyrie Irving, NBA superstar and founder of a new consulting firm, KAI 11 Consulting, and Lockstep Ventures, Black Business reported. It added that Fleeting is now one of the fastest-growing trucking companies in the U.S., having profited nearly $4 million within just three years since it started.

Inspiring stories of 2021 that left you in awe
Two Kenyan inventors David Gathu and Moses Kinyua. Photo credit: Africanews

David Gathu and Moses Kinyua behind first bio-robotic arm operated by brain signals

Kenyan inventors David Gathu and Moses Kinyua inventors created what is said to be the world’s first bio-robotic arm operated by brain signals. The invention, which is controlled by brain signals, has been billed as a game-changer in the lives of disabled people in Kenya.

Their invention differs from most prosthetic technology which is powered by a person’s muscles. The arm works by converting brain signals into an electric current by a “NeuroNode” biopotential headset receiver. NeuroNode biopotential was originally invented to help people suffering from paralysis and speech loss.

The electric current is then driven into the robot’s circuitry, which gives the arm its mobility, according to Euro News. The arm has several component materials including recycled wood and moves vertically and horizontally.

This technology makes it possible for disabled people to drive, operate a device like a computer or a phone, switch on or off lights by just thinking.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: December 26, 2021


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