Oladapo Bakare was raised in Nigeria and remembers visiting his grandparents in a tiny village when he was eight.
“Looking back, the images I had were amazing,” says Bakare, who never forgot the difficulty villagers had transporting water. “The women would walk to a stream, fill a jug with water, and carry it home on their heads. I just wished there was some way I could help,” he says. “I always felt there was an easier, more efficient way to carry water.”
Recently, in a product design class at MIT, Bakare — along with a team of seven others — developed Aquaport. It’s a simple-to-use water transportation device for people in rural Ghana that costs less than $40. The design is a series of cylindrical containers that interlock, each containing 15 liters of water, making it possible to carry about 90 liters of water at once. A metal bar through the device makes it possible to roll it along as you walk.
“We’re getting great feedback,” says Bakare, who is now talking with manufacturers, and who recently was among the winners of this year’s MIT IDEAS Competition, an invention and entrepreneurship contest that encourages young people to change the world.
The son of entrepreneurs, Bakare dreams about becoming a social entrepreneur, creating businesses that alleviate poverty, provide jobs, and grow economies. He is also a Legatum fellow. (MIT’s Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship trains students committed to launching businesses in low-income countries.) In addition, Bakare is now creating Base Africa, a startup company that will promote entrepreneurship in Africa through various technologies.
A graduate student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Bakare graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 with a degree in electrical engineering. He worked for four years as a design engineer at Intel in Beaverton, Oregon, before arriving at MIT.
“Growing up in an entrepreneurial family really encouraged me to see opportunities and take advantage of them,” he says. “And moving to the U.S. from a third-world country has given me a fascinating view.
“I owe the Public Service Center a huge debt of gratitude. It’s through them that I’ve been able to bring my ideas to fruition. It’s remarkable to have an idea translate into an actual product which people not only appreciate, but which makes an impact. I’m hoping this device will make people’s lives easier and more productive.”