Our Team

TechLit Africa Team Member | Founder - CEO | Forbes 30 Under 30 Nelly Cheboi

Nelly Cheboi
Founder - CEO | Forbes 30 Under 30

I grew up in a rural village in Kenya. The situation there was dire. Circumstances forced me to raise my younger sister when I was just nine years old. I wanted to change the narrative of kids growing up in communities like mine. I want to fix poverty, and for good this time.

Through hard work and determination, I landed a full scholarship to Augustana College, in America. Coming to the United States and studying computer science gave me the platform to accelerate my impact. As an undergrad, I invested all of my income from various campus jobs into my community back in Kenya. I built a school, Zawadi, there and later started TechLit Africa.

TechLit Africa is a non-profit American organization that redistributes recycled technology to build computer labs in African schools. We have already built 10 computers in rural Kenya and are currently working on our next 100 computer labs. We already have around 4,000 students and 20 teachers. By next year we will have around 40,000 students and 200 teachers.

Our program is unique because we teach classes that are relevant; we hire local teachers to make sure of it. We train our own teachers to run the computer labs in their own community, who meet every day to improve their classes. We are unlocking a world of opportunities to these kids. They will be inspired to take on a dozen careers: they will have the skills to tap into the global economy straight from the village.

This is my life's work because I know first hand how awful poverty is. We plan to do this for the whole of rural Africa, positioning ourselves to 10x our growth year after year. TechLit is my opportunity to fix poverty, and for good this time.

TechLit Africa Team Member | Founder - COO Tyler Cinnamon

Tyler Cinnamon
Founder - COO

I founded TechLit with Nelly in 2018. We were living and working together in a small apartment in Chicago. Nelly had the idea to teach technology in Kenya by building schools, and I said: "the schools already exist, we just need the computers classes." Since then, I have worn many hats, from connecting hardware and software to lifting boxes and teaching classes.

Before TechLit I was a self-taught software engineer. I was immersed in programming from a young age, first hacking on TI calculators and visual languages, and eventually building websites and flash games.

Now I’m bringing my love of software and ambitious optimism to TechLit, because I believe everyone in the world should be able to use recent technology. I think we can use technology this way to make humankind as a whole more equitable and efficient.

TechLit Africa Team Member | Country Director Moha Ismael

Moha Ismael
Country Director

I was raised in Rongai, Nakuru Kenya. I've been a journalist at Multichoice Tanzania and NTV Kenya, and a computer hardware technician.

For a long time I had a passion to hold other peoples' hands and help spread my skills wherever I could and to the people who were in need of them, that's why when I first learned about TechLit and their programmes I was intrigued with what they were doing and how they were changing the community.

I immediately wanted to be part of their programme and even asked Nelly if I could be involved more in the programme. What I wanted was to be part of an NGO that was making a real change in a community where a lot of people are technologically Illiterate.

I run the day to day operations of TechLit's computer labs and at the end of the day my biggest joy is seeing those kids going home having moved a step closer to becoming computer programmers and software engineers. I also get to use my skills to repair broken computers and help set-up new laboratories that way TechLit's gets to expand to other schools.

Personally I know TechLit will be a big bridge in making all our futures great, both me and the rest of the teachers.

TechLit Africa Team Member | Board Chair Jane Bahls

Jane Bahls
Board Chair

I met Nelly in 2011 when she started at Augustana College, because our church, Trinity Lutheran Church, Moline, was sponsoring her. She soon became a member of our family, and we’ve offered support as needed and cheered each accomplishment.

In our living room one Thanksgiving she and Tyler began sharing their vision for an organization that could help overcome the digital divide in Africa, and they named it that evening. I was honored to serve as the first member of the board, which I now chair. I’ve been able to offer my observations and experience serving on various nonprofit boards in my community as to how a board functions and some principles of fundraising.

My 20-year career as a magazine freelancer gives me some skill as an editor of TechLit materials. It’s exciting to be part of this energetic organization as board chair and financial backer, knowing that what all these children are learning will open the world for them and help lift all their families out of poverty.

TechLit Africa Team Member | Board Member Jack O'Donnell

Jack O'Donnell
Board Member

Five plus years ago, I met Tyler and Nelly when they appeared at a volunteer event for the World Computer Exchange. I could tell from day one that they had a passion for reaching children with technology.

Soon after that meeting I learned of their plans for TechLit Africa. As I became more involved in their work I began to understand that TechLit Africa’s mission was to not just support and train children in using technology but also provide examples of what was possible in their lives.

Prior to my involvement with TechLit Africa I spent 16yrs as the Chicago Coordinator for the World Computer Exchange which shipped refurbished computer to overseas classrooms. Before that I taught high school in the US and worked a a tech/curriculum specialist. That experience is what I hope to bring as a Board member to TechLit Africa. I am committed to helping this great adventure in broadening the choices for kids in Africa.

TechLit Africa Team Member | Board Member Matt Pelton

Matt Pelton
Board Member

I met Nelly in Chicago in 2019 at the introduction of Steve Bahls, Jane's husband and the President of Augustana College, from where both he (2010) and Nelly (2016) graduated.

Similar to Nelly, I had left a stable corporate role years prior to help build organizations and support entrepreneurs across the African continent - first leading the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship program at the African Leadership Group, and more recently as part of the founding team of African Leadership University, where I served as the MBA product manager and helped build the ALU School of Business from initial concept to product launch.

While working with leaders and entrepreneurs across Africa, I was inspired by the role of entrepreneurship in driving social and economic impact, and was impressed by the opportunity for technology-enabled businesses in Africa to leapfrog legacy business models. My passion for Africa started in an Augustana study abroad program in West Africa, and I have since invested time to support expansion of Africa-related initiatives at my alma mater.

Nelly and Tyler invited me to join TechLit's board in 2020 and he was excited to support a fellow alumnus and her partner to scale their vision and bring technology and skill development programs to youth and schools across the continent.

TechLit Africa Team Member | Content Writer Steve Alila

Steve Alila
Content Writer

I have witnessed how financial donations and digital transformation can economically empower society.

I attended free primary school education, completed high school through sponsorship at Starehe Boys' Centre. Later, I furthered my studies at the campus, content marketing and software development. My digital skills have enabled me to earn a living, travel East Africa, and support a few NGOs.

I met Nelly in March 2021. She explained TechLit Africa's mission through a Zoom meeting and later introduced me to Tyler.

Together we have collaborated in marketing the organization through content writing. TechLit enables me to achieve my dream of fighting poverty in Africa through digital transformation.

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