James Whelton named Ashoka fellow – raises up to €100k investment (video)

17 Oct 2012

Twenty-year-old tech entrepreneur James Whelton, co-founder of the CoderDojo movement, has become the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship, joining social entrepreneurs that include Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Nobel Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank.

The announcement was made at the Dublin Web Summit in Dublin today.

Whelton gained international renown as the first person to hack the iPod nano at the age of just 17.

He has been coding and designing websites since the age of 13.

Last year, he and entrepreneur and investor Bill Liao founded CoderDojo to address the lack of computer education in Ireland.

There are now 104 dojos happening every Saturday afternoon (41 in Ireland) in cities from Dublin to Florence, and Tokyo, LA, New York, San Francisco, London and Chicago. New ones are sprouting up in Jamaica and Africa. On any given Saturday, an average of 6,000 kids between the ages of seven and 17 in Ireland and around the world are teaching each other how to write code.

As well as accessing the exclusive 3,000-strong Ashoka Fellowship, Whelton will secure €100,000 worth of investment through a partnership led by Intel.

He has formed his own foundation, the Hello World Foundation, which aims to help other tech initiatives and integrate them with the Irish education system.

“James is a first-class social entrepreneur whose innovations will spread globally and Ashoka can help accelerate the process,” said Paul O’Hara, director of Ashoka Ireland.

“He is a powerful example of what a 20-year-old with vision, courage and skill can achieve,” O’Hara said.

Whelton, who is also a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland winner, will be provided with an advisory board from Ashoka, as well as access to pro-bono support services from Deloitte, McKinsey, Ogilvy and others.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years