Interview with Luckson Silweya
Founder and CEO @ Tokidz

Luckson Silweya has studied Telecommunication, Information Technology and business, in Zambia Australia and the US. He has worked in Telecommunication industry for five years and ICT industry for 10 years, both in technical and business roles. ToKidz is a purpose-designed education intervention contextualized to Africa’s unique conditions and aims to deploy affordable, leap-frogging e-Learning technology to provide World-class education for Zambia’s poor and vulnerable children. Tokidz is social enterprise for-profit model aiming to generate self-sustaining revenues to meet business costs. Profits would be reinvested to scale the business to be a significant provider of eLearning solutions throughout Sub Saharan Africa (SSA).
Hey! Could you please tell us a bit more about Tokidz? When did you initially decide to found the company?
E-learning is a social enterprise that seeks to improve the standard of education in Africa. The aim for us, through education, is to break a cycle of poverty among many children in Africa. We use technology and that includes online technology which is a web-based portal through that we are able to teach English and Mathematics. We've got recorded activities thereof. We provide affordable devices, including tablets and laptops. We work closely with the manufacturers to provide affordable devices, but also bearing in mind that most children live in areas where there is no electricity. We provide solar chargers but also provide other services that include content development, so we are able to localise the content and make sure it's relevant for children in respective countries. The idea of ToKidz began about four years ago. I've worked in IT and telecommunication for over 15 years and it dawned on me that we can provide quality education across Africa not only to thousands but to millions of children. Through cloud computing, I began to realise that we might be able to do this. We've formed good partnerships and we've been able to come up with this platform that is working pretty well. That's how the Tokidz began.
How does the education industry in Zambia need to change and how does Tokidz interrupt the current industry?
How does the education industry in Zambia need to change and how does Tokidz interrupt the current industry?
What have been the biggest challenges and rewards of founding the company and working as its Founder and CEO?
The biggest challenge I think might be two-fold. One, is the fact that financially it has been a massive challenge, stepping away from the corporate world to concentrate on these projects has been financially draining, on a personal level and also on a family level. When you are establishing a thing like this, every step requires finances including flying to Africa or Australia. All that has been very challenging. But the other thing, of course, is as a founder, you walk a lonely road sometimes because you see something that no one else is able to see and you are following your dream and no one can see that dream and it can be a very lonely road. I think the main challenges focus on financial and social areas. Everything comes with great rewards. In this particular case, the most rewarding thing that I find is having people believing in the vision of Tokidz. Also, it is great to be able to see children appreciating the platform and being able to see those benefits flowing on and becoming a reality, something that you dreamed about becoming a reality. I think you can't put a dollar sign on that. That's the most rewarding thing to see children from different backgrounds appreciating the technology and loving it and enjoying it and improving their grades. I think that's the most rewarding thing. It feels like 'job done!' I look forward to seeing more of that, but there will be more challenges along the way.
Do you have any projects outside of your work? How else do you spend your time?
Yes, there are other projects that I quietly work on. These include, how we can promote tourism in Africa and also the use of e-commerce to enable small businesses and also the e-payment that I've actively been involved in. We are incorporating that technology to be part of Tokidz. But the reality is that these projects take up 10% of my time because Tokidz does take up much of my time. I'm also a parent of three teenagers and I do enjoy parenting. Whenever the kids like hanging out with me, we play tennis, we go cycling or just hang out. I do that quite a bit whenever there is the time of course. I don't think I do spend as much time with them as I would like to. Whenever there is extra time, I follow global politics to see what's happening around the world. I enjoy reading different kinds of biographies. I follow technology and the trends within the technology sector. I also love following religion, I'm a Christian by profession and that is what I do. Some of the other time I hang out with friends. Again, running a project like Tokidz, takes up much of my time and I don't think I see my friends as much as I would like to but I'm sure at some point things will settle down I'll spend more time with them.
You previously worked as an entrepreneur- take us through your career trajectory. How did you end up where you are now? What passions or instincts have you followed?
At the age of 16, I established my first business. I was selling fishing hooks to my friends. We moved to an area where there was nothing and no one was selling fishing hooks, and those that were being sold were very expensive. I sold my fishing hooks and my mother was the manager and the salesperson as I went to school. At the age of 20, I began to sell Bibles. We moved to the capital city Lusaka and there was a need for Bibles and I saw that need and then began to sell books that way. When I completed high school, I went and studied agriculture engineering which I didn't quite complete and then moved to telecommunication which was sponsored by the commission company and I trained in Zambia as a technician. From there, when I had completed my training, I was looking at the way technology was going. I saw that telecommunication might just be the thing. I came to Australia and studied IT and also studied with Princeton University. I then moved on to work in IT for about 12 years in Australia with a number of software companies. About four years ago, with a passion to try to do something different, I saw the need in education. I decided to begin looking at Tokidz and two years ago I left my work to concentrate on Tokidz. My last job was with a great company that I worked for. Across the board, I have followed my passion and my gut feeling and my conviction and that has led the way in everything that I have done.