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Young innovator educating the nation's youth online

Published:Thursday | February 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Gordon Swaby

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

AT 23 years old, Gordon Swaby has already figured out the trajectory that he wants to take to achieve his personal and entrepreneurial dreams, and the international community is already taking notice.

In March 2012, Swaby launched the online social learning platform, EduFocal, for students pursuing the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), and already the company has successfully etched itself in the Jamaican education sector.

With endorsements from international partners, corporate Jamaica and education technocrats, the astute businessman said he has figured out a way to make money while positively contributing to the development of the country by using his passion for technology.

Swaby has successfully combined 'study and play' through gamification to captivate students with the country's first online learning community.

"As a young Jamaican, doing what I am doing, it's really heartening to know that we are living in such an amazing time where there are so many ways to make an impact, and I am happy to be making an impact," he stated.

This impact is not only being felt here in Jamaica, but across the region and at some of the most influential global multilaterals.

IDB invitation

So substantial is the work that Swaby is doing that he has been invited to attend the Inter-American Development Bank's (IDB) meeting of the board of governors at the end of March in Bahia, Brazil.

Swaby was one of 10 young innovators selected to attend the BID-1NN0VADORES event to "showcase how they are contributing to improve the quality of life in the region".

In addition to this, the World Economic Forum on Latin America has also extended an invitation to Swaby for him to attend its three-day conference on the region's efforts to maintain economic growth in Panama at the beginning of April.

"It's a privilege to be representing Jamaica. I don't do what I do to be acknowledged. I do it because I love it and I think that I can make a difference ... What I am doing is not only for myself or for my company. Everywhere that I go, I am representing Jamaica and I need to represent Jamaica well," expressed the computer engineering student.

Swaby said EduFocal is not "just a thing on the side", but something he is committed to and is focused on expanding into several other ventures.

"I see EduFocal expanding to other Caribbean countries. I see us expanding from GSAT and CSEC to maybe even SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)."

To achieve the sort of growth that he envisions, Swaby said he took a year from studies at the University of Technology to concentrate on developing the business further.

Going around obstacles

"Because of this (focus), anything that could have been considered an obstacle was never an issue for me, but was simply something that I needed to just go around or go over," he added.

Swaby said he has met up on the bureaucracy that plagues several businesses, but he does not dwell on this. He takes them as lessons that are helping to build his business acumen.

Swaby said he also managed to overcome these challenges with the mentorship of other private-sector entities, such as British Caribbean Insurance Company and Rainforest Seafoods, along with the Technology Innovation Centre.

He added that more established companies need to start acting as mentors for young entreprenuers.