TEDxLilongwe Vincent Kumwenda Organizer

In Collaborating, Organizing by Mark Sylvester

The Hack:
After your event, take your speakers and team into the rural towns that could never attend your event to reach new audiences


Vincent Kumwenda in the Organizer of TEDxLilongwe, located is the capital of Malawi. Because they are next to the second largest lake in the world, they focus on ideas that address local issues, such as Agriculture, Fishing, and the burgeoning startup economy. An interesting fact that you won't be able to tell from listening is that Vincent called me on his cell phone while the city was in one of their frequent blackouts, and I could only see him from the light of his phone. It was eerie and cool at the same time.

TEDxLilongwe does something interesting to reach two goals; develop a unique activation for a partner and deliver ideas to the rural regions of Malawi populated mostly by impoverished people. After his event, Vincent packed up team members and speakers and traveled to small villages over a few days and introduced the villagers to TEDx and big ideas.

Malawi is a country of 18 million people and provides a rich source of speakers and topics. Vincent's day job is the Chief Executive Officer of mHub, Malawi's first technology and innovation Hub. mHub is a social enterprise that champions the development of local technology solutions. He manages a team of determined and passionate youths who nurture young innovators and emerging entrepreneurs with technical and business skills to create sustainable business solutions.

Vincent is also a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, a US Government sponsored Young African Leaders Initiative.

Shout out to Randy Bretz, Organizer of TEDxLincoln for introducing us to Vincent.

We give people the freedom to be creative, and involve the design community to participate in making our event unique." Vincent Kumwenda, Organizer, TEDxLilongwe

The Lightning Round

  • Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.

    He attended the local TEDx in 2013 and became the organizer in 2016. He first was exposed to TED Talks while he was a student.

  • How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?

    TEDGlobal2018 in Tanzania had many Malawians in attendance including Vincent.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    They give people the freedom to be creative and invite designers in Set Designers and Architects to submit ideas for the stage.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Organizing and Collaborating

  • What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?

    How the ideas come to life once the speaker steps onto the stage.

  • Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?

    The TEDx concept is relatively new to Malawi and getting sponsors continues to be a challenge. Also, speakers don't understand the scope and importance of TED.

  • What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?

    Be prepared for a lot of hard work and be open to other ideas.

  • Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?

    More female speakers.

  • What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?

    TEDxLincoln (hat tip to Randy Bretz)

  • The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?

    Take your ideas out to the rural villages that would never have exposure to TED talks. (Granted, this might not be a great hack for urban TEDx events, but is a fascinating idea for events in emerging regions.)

Featured Episodes


TEDxUCLouvain – Creating an Experience in spite of COVID

Finding ways to be creative and stay connected to your TEDx Community during these challenging times of sequestering and dealing with a global pandemic can test even the most creative Organizers.

Lara Stein – Founder of TEDx

On the first day of TED2019 in Vancouver, Randy Bretz, TEDxLincoln, Emeritus, and I were honored to interview the founder of TEDx, Lara Stein.

TEDxSydney – Remo Giuffre – Organizer

Remo Giuffre, the original licensee of TEDxSydney, has the envious position of curating one of the most widely respected TEDx events in the world.