Where doctors are in short supply, a kid who watched action movies started asking questions.

Watch BBC’s The Tablet That Can Save Your Life (3:40)

Arthur was one of the top kids in his class, lucky enough to be in school, and yet American movies taught him to skip out.

Like  most kids he was into big action movies, but what got his attention  wasn’t the explosions, it was all the high-tech hospital equipment. So  one day, instead of going to school, he just walked from hospital to  hospital, asking doctors if they had an ECG to show him.

The BBC just published a short documentary on Arthur Zang,  the founder of Cardiopad, a startup that allows patients in rural  Cameroon and Nepal to get diagnosed by medical specialists anywhere in  the world.

Cameroon, for example, has a population of 22 million but only 50 cardiologists — and all of them in the capital.

When  I met Arthur, he was a typical African tech entrepreneur, with a solid  engineering background, a work ethic that made Gary Vaynerchuk look like  Ozzy Osborne, and a mastery at raising awareness (and funding.)

We met in Accra, for the first week of The Africa Prize education programme. He was quiet and soft-spoken. His eyes were always bloodshot.

I’ve seen this before — the entrepreneur who doesn’t sleep. But another clue revealed itself.

Every  morning and every evening, I’d look out my hotel room window and see  Arthur swimming. Turns out Arthur never had access to a swimming pool,  and he wasn’t going to let the opportunity to learn to swim pass him by,  and the Source Institute crew was happy to oblige him with daily  lessons. (We also covered subscription business models and a few other  topics that helped him take Cardiopad to the next level.)

The  same way Arthur learned to swim, that’s how he learned electronics, and  programming. It was the same way he’d learned to speak English, just  months before joining The Africa Prize.

The  same teenage Arthur had walked to each his city’s hospitals, and walked  in to unassumingly convince a doctor to show him the machines, he’s  still persistently learning and learning.

Explore Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, on Google Maps.

That’s how Arthur won The Rolex Prize.

That’s how Arthur met the president of Cameroon, and got a substantial donation.

That’s how he got on a plane to China, and negotiated his first large order.

That’s how he won last year’s Africa Prize For Engineering.

And  that’s why I expect he’ll be successful in establishing a sustainable  business model that allows rural people in poor countries to get access  to specialist healthcare.

Arthur explaining how he got from prototype to product, on The Sources.

If  you’d like to learn more from Arthur, we interviewed him in-depth for  our free online course for and by African technology entrepreneurs, The Sources. It’s free — just sign up.

Salim Virani

Salim Virani

Founder of Source Institute. I've developed educational programs for some of the world's top-tier accelerators and business schools, like Seedcamp, Oxford, UCL and the Royal Academy Of Engineering.