LUCREZIA BISIGNANI // ONE OF FORBES 30 UNDER 30 MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD
MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD
I loved getting to know Lucrezia. When we create a path that’s connected to a purpose, it inspires others to reconnect to their strengths and find connection in serving others. I hope you find inspiration in her Founding Story.
You have so much driven purpose in all you do with the best intentions to change the world.
I feel some people are born with that itch to change the world. No matter how much you try to turn your back to it, that feeling creeps back in. It sits on your shoulders sometimes very heavily. I’ve learned to embrace it all along. It’s part of who I am and it fuels and guides my life.
Also, I believe that I am not alone in this journey of purpose. I was born in a generation of change makers. We don’t necessarily want a secure job, or wait until our pensions to do good. We want to be the ones creating a better world for our kids, and we want to see it now.
How did you get started and move in this direction at such a young age?
I found my direction at a very early age. At the time, I didn’t know that I was building up tiny pieces of what has become my life and purpose, but I can see it now looking back.
It started when I was 8 years old, that’s when I visited Africa with my family for the first time. My parents wanted me and my brothers and sisters to see how different the world was from where we were growing up in Rome. We visited schools in rural areas and remote villages in various countries in the world. When I came back, I felt the need to stay connected to those places and possibly do something to help.
I started fundraising during the summer, selling small crafts at a local beach in Tuscany. Few years later, I was selling photographs from my trips and giving back to charities around Africa regularly. By my teenage years I had set up a non for profit organization and was raising hundreds of thousand of dollars. That’s when I realized I could do something bigger and my mentors encouraged me to move to San Francisco to understand how technology could help me have a much bigger impact.
What was your inspiration from the start?
There are two things that really played a big part in inspiring me:
First, a “think ridiculously big mindset.” I could not have gotten that if it wasn’t for Singularity University, the NASA based exponential technology programs for entrepreneurs who are selected to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. Everyday for three months at the front of our classroom was a pink sign that said “How will you positively impact a billion people in 10 years?” After Singularity nothing was the same for me. I felt unstoppable and empowered to pick the biggest problem in global education, and dedicate my life to solving it.
My second most important inspiration came from the research I did on the ground in Africa. There was no big “aha” moment that led me to start my company. I fell in love with the problem I wanted to solve. I found out that over 250 million children mainly located in Sub-Saharan Africa were illiterate, and I had to understand why. I spent 6 months living around the continent, sitting at the back of hundreds of classrooms, interviewing parents and teachers, testing literacy methodologies and building and iterating prototypes of potential literacy solutions.
How did you know this is what you wanted to do in life?
I don’t think I ever asked myself the question “What do you want to do in life…” I guess I listened to my inner calling all along... that “you can change the world” voice inside of each one of us and it led me to the path I’m on, one step at a time. I never gave up when there were challenges in front of me. I looked for ways around them keeping in mind where I wanted to go. I was also incredibly lucky to attract the most supportive network of people around me; from my family to my mentors and now investors they believed in me blindly and gave me the confidence to always keep going.
What do you hope to accomplish with Super Sema?
Super Sema is going to be the heroine of a billion people. The figure that the whole youth African population and beyond will look up to when envisioning their future. She will be the star of the biggest education entertainment franchise. Launched with a series of literacy apps Super Sema is expanding with a TV series to inspire children to STEAM and will go all the way to becoming toys, books and even theme parks around the world to educate and inspire children.
When you got started or even in today’s world, did you come across any challenges? If so, what were they and how did you move past them?
When you’re starting a business everyday is a different challenge. Even when you think you have it all in place something new comes up that requires you to be resourceful. And I don’t think it ends once you’re a billion dollar company, perhaps that’s when the challenge really starts! But I noticed this pattern early on…. And decided to build a team that’s agile enough to respond to challenges and pivots. It’s important for our team to keep a “humble aggressive” mindset. This allows us to keep ourselves open to learning something new and confident to take bold decisions throughout the tough times.
What advice would you share to a woman that is looking to create a life of purpose?
I once saw a sign that said “If not you then who? If not now then when?” I think this sums it up pretty well. Once that sticks, I feel us women just need a final encouragement kick! And that’s best achieved when we surround ourselves with people who believe in us, like a personal cheer leading fan base that can tell us “Yes YOU! Yes NOW! It’s okay.. keep going!”
What’s next for you now?
We are now producing the animated television series of Super Sema, think of it as "Black Panther" meets "PJ Masks," to inspire children to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and math. You will find the first pilot on our Super Sema YouTube channel soon along with more exciting and inspiring content we’re making!
For more information, visit www.kukua.me. Online Kukua can be found on Facebook @teamkukua, Instagram @teamKukua and @supersemaofficial, twitter @teamkukua and an upcoming YouTube channel launching this Fall @SuperSema.
ABOUT LUCREZIA BISIGNANI // Founder & CEO, Kukua
Lucrezia “Lulu” Bisignani is a social entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of London-based Kukua, an entertainment education company founded in 2014 to produce a Pan-African children’s franchise around Super Sema Africa’s first animated child heroine who is brought to life through game-based learning Apps, YouTube channel, an upcoming animated TV series and toys.
Named in 2019 as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, Bisignani began developing mobile gaming to teach African children basic reading, writing and mathematics in an effort to help battle functional illiteracy among approximately 200 million African children.
The franchise was launched with a series of game-based learning apps to teach African children basic reading, writing and math skills. The franchise is meant to expand with an upcoming TV Series currently in pre-production, the launch of a YouTube channel and eventually toys and books.
To expand this Super Sema vision globally, Bisignani recently raised $2.5 million in seed funding for Kukua from Africa’s and Europe’s leading venture capital funds. She also served as a keynote speaker on “Powering Literacy and STEM through Entertainment and Technology” at the EdTechXEurope 2019 in London and in Italy she was awarded the “Germoglio d’Oro” award, by the President of the Italian Republic, known as the “Oscar of female entrepreneurs” by Fondazione Bellisario.
She founded her first education organization as a teenager in 2009 called Staanoi, a non-profit organization based in Rome, Italy that supports innovative education and technology programs to promote 21st century skills among youth. She then moved to San Francisco to learn how she could leverage technology to build scalable solutions to address global problems.
Bisignani was nominated among the 100 most influential Italian women in technology by StartupItalia, was selected to speak at WIRED 2016 as one of the women who are changing the world. In 2017, Bisignani was selected as a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Solve fellow, chosen to work on Refugee education for the MIT initiative that advances lasting solutions from tech entrepreneurs to address the world's most pressing problems.
With Super Sema, her hope is to empower children to pursue those crazy ideas and foster their imagination and give them skills and confidence to make their own box and color outside the lines.
A native of Rome, Italy, Bisignani currently resides in Nairobi and London. She has traveled half of the world, often with a backpack while riding a horse. She’s acted in most of Shakespeare's famous female roles and spends most of her free time with her twin brother and big, loud Italian family.