Christopher Ategeka: Addressing global poverty

Berkeley Engineering 150

Chris AtegekaChristopher Ategeka (Photo by Bret Hartman/TED)“Engineers can make all kinds of differences in the world,” said Christopher Ategeka (B.S.’11, M.S.’12 ME) as he delivered the student speech at Berkeley Engineering’s 2011 commencement. In that moment, he was encouraging his fellow graduates to address the problems of global poverty, a challenge he himself has successfully taken on as an engineer and entrepreneur.

Ategeka was born in a small village in rural Uganda, where he experienced the extreme difficulties of poverty. The eldest of five children, he lost both parents to HIV/AIDS by the time he was seven years old. After a turbulent period of caring for his siblings and then living with various relatives, he eventually connected with a non-profit orphanage, Y.E.S. Uganda, and was able to get an education. After completing high school, he came to Oakland to attend community college and then enrolled at UC Berkeley.

While a student, Ategeka started his first project, CA Bikes, which helped Ugandans build, refurbish and repair motorized and non-motorized bicycles. After graduating, he expanded its mission through Rides for Lives, which created locally-sourced and manufactured bicycle ambulances and mobile clinics to provide accessible medical care in Uganda. In 2017, realizing that a significant problem in many African communities was the extreme shortage of healthcare professionals, Ategeka created Health Access Corps, a non-profit that supports doctors, nurses and midwives in underserved areas.

Ategeka is also the founder and managing partner at UCOT, Inc., the world’s first center for the unintended consequences of technology. In recognition of his social entrepreneurship, he has won numerous international awards and has been a featured speaker at the United Nations, Clinton Global Initiative and TEDGlobal.

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