Entrepreneur. Community Mobilizer. Research Scientist.

Tom is a community mobilizer, entrepreneur and research scientist. Born and raised in poverty in rural Kenya, he has started and worked for organizations that aim to disrupt the status quo and lift communities out of poverty. At 18, he co-founded GreenChar, a social enterprise that provided homes and institutions in rural Kenya and urban slums with clean energy. For his work and leadership at GreenChar, he was the youngest recipient of Echoing Green Fellowship – an award for the world’s best social entrepreneurs. At 19, he was named on the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Social Entrepreneurship, the second youngest person to receive the honor. He has also been awarded the Women Deliver Social Entrepreneur Award in 2016, the Anzisha Prize Energy Award and many other awards. Salt Magazine has also listed him as 30 under 30 social entrepreneur. Besides his entrepreneurial experience, Tom graduated from Harvard College with a  High Honors degree in 2020.

Work

Shamiri Institute, Inc

Shamiri Institute is a non-profit data-driven organization that develops and implements low cost and low stigma mental health interventions to help young people thrive. Our mission is to provide at-risk low-income youths in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond with the tools to improve their life outcomes. Founded by Harvard graduates and launched in Kenya in 2018, Shamiri combines rigorous social science research with deep contextual knowledge of the Kenyan educational and mental healthcare systems.

Bobea Group, LLC

Bobea Group is a data-driven agriculture venture management company focused on Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). While agriculture currently has a massive social and economic footprint in SSA—where more than 60% of the population works as smallholder farmers and agriculture accounts for 23% of total GDP—this remains an untapped industry for innovation. Realizing SSA’s full agricultural potential requires significant investment and radical approaches. At Bobea Group, we adopt a data-driven farm-to-fork approach through which we identify the important factors and drivers of the agriculture sector in SSA; find and support deserving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and achieve financial impact through a holding company model.

GreenChar Solutions, Ltd

Greenchar provided clean household energy solutions to Kenyan households. Specifically, we provided smokeless, high energy, long lasting charcoal briquettes and clean cookstoves. Our briquettes were made from revitalized agricultural wastes thus providing a root to leaf utilization of agricultural crops. Specially optimized for use of the briquettes, our clean cookstoves conserve heat, reduce emissions, and fuel use, enabling us to save time, money, and lives. By transforming the cooking environment, we reduce the devastating effects of deforestation and put a smile on the face of women and children. We hope to be the ultimate provider of clean household energy solutions. 

Harvard Moral Psychology Lab

Social learning is a cornerstone of human thought and behavior: observing what happens to others shapes how we learn and behave. My work, with Lab Pi Fiery Cushman, explores a simple and relatively understudied form of social learning: vicarious reward learning.  Specifically, we build on prior research that shows signatures of “model-free” learning and decision-making in humans. We interrogate the possibility of an analogous mechanism of observational learning. The key property of model-free learning is that actions are reinforced proportional to their history of reward, without taking into account an explicit model of causal dynamics that lead to that reward. We ask whether actions are also reinforced in proportion to the observed history of reward realized by others.

In The Media

 

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Awards and Fellowships

Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur (second youngest honoree).

Echoing Green Climate Fellowship (youngest recipient in 30+ year history).

Sidney Matz Memorial Award. Eliot House, Harvard College. 

Robert T. Benjamin Prize. Harvard College. 

Williams/Lodge International Government and Public Affairs, Weatherhead Center For International Affairs, Harvard University.

Women Deliver Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

Salt Magazine 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs.

Africa Youth Awards – Top 100 Most Influential Young Africans.

Advance Media – 100 Most Influential Young Kenyans.

Donors Circle for Africa Energy Prize..

Innovate Kenya Winner.

Winner- Kenya Science and Engineering Fair.

Silver Medal – Golden Climate International Environmental Olympiad.

Gold Medal – Royal Commonwealth Society Young Persons Essay Award.

Winner- Kenya Science and Engineering Fair.

Bronze Medal – Golden Climate International Environmental Olympiad (efficient charcoal from biomass waste).

Appearances

“Re-thinking social entrepreneurship – A model that works for those closest to the problem”. TEDx Berlin. September 2017. Berlin, Germany.

“On the business model canvas”. Startup Weekend – Nairobi. Feb 2016. Nairobi, Kenya. “A path out of poverty: how we can end poverty in our lifetime.” Nairobi Internal School – Global Issues Summit. January 2016. Nairobi, Kenya.

“Clean energy for all.” Child & Youth Finance International Ye! Boost Camp. October 2015. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

“We can do it: a model for empowering and supporting entrepreneurship in the developing world.” Young Entrepreneurs (Ye!) Community Global Launch hosted by Turkish G20 Presidency at the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion Forum. September 2015. Antalya, Turkey.

“Economic empowerment for women in the developing world: Putting women at the center of the clean energy revolution”. Women Deliver Conference. May 2015. Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution: Time for the youth”. American International School Association – Global Issues Summit. April 2015. Maputo, Mozambique.

“Unlocking business opportunities for the youths in Africa”. Multi-year Expert Meeting on Investment, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Productive Capacity-building and Sustainable Development. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. March 2015. Geneva, Switzerland.

Depression and anxiety symptoms in Kenyan adolescents: Understanding the prevalence, and social and demographic correlates. Harvard University Spring 2019 Undergraduate Research Spotlight. March 2019. Cambridge, MA.

A Four-Week Group Intervention for Adolescent Anxiety and Depression: Outcomes of a Randomized Trial with Kenyan Adolescents. Global Mental Health at Harvard Open Day. April 2019. Cambridge, MA.