Carnegie Mellon University

Awa Ndiaye, Dominique Aruede and Akwellé (Q) Quaye, three of the founders of Zodaj.

June 09, 2020

Innovation Scholars Prepare To Forge New Paths

Swartz Center program cultivates entrepreneurial students

By Michael Henninger

Jason Maderer
  • Marketing and Communications
  • 412-268-1151

During past Orientation weeks at Carnegie Mellon University, incoming students have the chance to meet and connect through activities like Playfair, House Wars and the Craig Street Crawl. As Awa Ndiaye got to know her new classmates during her first week at CMU, she recruited seven that were African or African-American and created Zodaj, a startup geared toward improving standards of living in Africa.

Two years later, three of the founding members of Zodaj — Ndiaye, Dominique Aruede, and Akwellé (Q) Quaye — are among the newly named Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship 2022 Innovation Scholars. The program, started in 2012 with funding from a grant from the McCune Foundation, cultivates an entrepreneurial mindset among undergraduate students over two years.

Ndiaye, a double major in business administration and Chinese studies, came to CMU with an entrepreneurial drive. Originally from Senegal, both her parents worked for the United Nations, and her education was always formed around global studies.

As CEO of Zodaj, Ndiaye has worked on projects in education-technology, like a game-based app that teaches career readiness, English and math. Zodaj also works with agricultural-technology, helping farmers make sustainable decisions that increase yield. Zodaj also has a non-profit branch.

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