Funke Aderonmu: An International Relations\Economics Major in Kenya

Portrait photo of UC Davis student Funke Aderonmu

As a Blum Center Summer Fellow, UC Davis student Funke Aderonmu will assess use of a green energy product for cooking and heating homes in Nairobi.

May 13, 2016 — Funke Aderonmu’s idea for her Blum Center Summer Fellow project grew out of a seminar she took winter quarter, “Global Poverty: Think Big, Start Small.”

In the course, she and other students connected with some Humphrey Fellows as well as partners in the International Development Innovation Network, a consortium working on low-cost technologies to improve the lives of people living in poverty. 

The “Global Poverty” course—taught by Kurt Kornbluth, a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Paula Balbontín, a graduate student in international agricultural development—is offered through the UC Davis D-Lab (Development via Dialogue, Design and Dissemination). A Blum Center partner, the D-Lab engages students in finding solutions to energy issues in developing countries.

Aderonmu, a third-year student majoring in international relations and economics, partnered with Bright Green Renewable Energy, a company that produces charcoal briquettes from recycled material for use in cooking and heating homes in Nairobi, Kenya.

“For my project, I will be conducting an assessment of current user experience with Bright Green’s charcoal briquette products, making product development recommendations based on the findings, and reporting on the environmental and social impacts of the products,” she said.  

Her stay in Africa will be her second in two years. Last summer, she spent two months in Uganda, tutoring fourth graders in math and social studies as an Operations Crossroads Africa volunteer.

She said she’s looking forward this summer to learning about “the role that business and social entrepreneurship can play in combating poverty and social ills in countries in Africa.”

Her plans for a career in public service may lead her overseas again after she graduates in spring 2017. Down the line, she may pursue a master’s degree in international development or an MBA emphasizing social entrepreneurship. But first, Aderonmu said, “I am interested in applying for programs like the Peace Corps that provide the opportunity to work extensively in a developing country.”

— Kathleen Holder, writes for the Division of Social Sciences, UC Davis College of Letters and Science. Follow her on Twitter @kmholder.

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