Sierra Leone teen builds radio station from recycled parts

Before age 15, Kelvin Doe was a visiting practitioner at MIT and lectured at Harvard.

Kelvin Doe was born the youngest of five children in Sierra Leone. He built a radio station out of recycled materials and in 2012 was invited to MIT to act as a visiting practitioner and lectured at Harvard.


At the age of ten Kelvin would wake early in the morning and head to scrap heaps to scavenge parts. The pile of components grew bigger and as he experimented his passion for inventing and electronics was born. In Sierra Leone everyone owns a radio, and as Doe’s knowledge of electronics grew he began to fix radios for people in the community.

One of Doe’s earliest projects was a three channel mixer built from scrap transistors, resistors, capacitors, and lots of cardboard.  More components were added to his set up, microphones and headphones appeared and Kelvin became a dj.

Playing dj gigs under his stage name, DJ Focus, Kelvin began to make money but realized most of his money was being spent on batteries. This spurred him to make his own battery. Eventually playing music and building batteries became commonplace so he worked to create his own radio station.

 After learning important lessons about broadcast frequencies, recognition started to come in for Doe. His team was a finalist in the 2012 Innovate Salone competition and he was flown to New York for the 2012 World Maker Faire.

A short documentary about Kelvin and his experiences was released by THNKR and has pulled in more than six million views. Doe has now started his own organization that sends inventors to schools in Sierra Leone to talk about the importance of innovation and engineering.

Kelvin Doe is a great speaker during this TEDx Talk. He is full of energy, happiness and a youthful exuberance. He says that the most important qualities for an inventor are creativity, perseverance and a burning passion.