When William Kamkwamba was 14, Malawi suffered a severe famine. His family could no longer pay his school fees, and he was forced to drop out of high school. While staying home, William remained curious and inventive and worked with the village librarian to stay engaged with his studies, especially science. Working from just one photo in a U.S. junior high school textbook book called “Using Energy,” he reasoned out how to build an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap, despite having no instructions.
William’s inspiring story is told in his New York Times bestselling memoir The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, co-authored with Bryan Mealer, and in the Netflix film adaptation, directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, which was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film festival. Since its debut, William’s book has been published in two additional editions, a young readers version, and a children’s book. The autobiography has sold more than 1 million copies and has been translated in nearly twenty languages worldwide. William has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Nyasa Times, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer.
After graduating from Dartmouth College in Environmental Studies, William began work as a Global Fellow for the design firm IDEO.org. William is an entrepreneur, TED Fellow, and has worked with the WiderNet Project to develop appropriate technologies curriculums focused on bridging the gap between “knowing” and “doing” for young people in Malawi and across the world. William splits his time between the U.S. and Malawi and is currently working full-time with the Moving Windmills Project to bring the Moving Windmills Innovation Center to life in Kasungu, Malawi.