As we continue in our Black History Month blog series, we'd like to shed light on an inventor, entrepreneur and leader in telecommunications, Mr. Freddie Figgers.
Early Life and Developing an Interest in Technology
Freddie Figgers was born in Quincy, Florida and abandoned at a dumpster by his birth mother. He was subsequently adopted by Betty and Nathan Figgers, who raised him and nurtured his passion for technology throughout his childhood.
This passion was sparked when his father paid $25 for a broken 1989 Macintosh computer at a thrift shop. Nathan Figgers, who was a maintenance worker at Florida State University, brought the computer home and set it on the kitchen table so his son could tinker with it.
Figgers' father believed that getting him interested in computers would keep him out of trouble. Figgers Sr. turned out to be right. A young Freddie took it apart and put it back together several times, learning how to install additional components.
At the age of 13, Figgers began working as a computer technician and network administrator. By 16, he had launched his own computer repair business and later that year, Figgers Computers Inc. was born.
Founding America's First Black-Owned Telecommunications Company
Figgers continued working with electronics and software and launched Figgers Communication (now Figgers Wireless) at 21, becoming the youngest person to acquire an FCC license, and the first Black-owned telecommunications company in the U.S.
Figgers Wireless offers cellular, mobile, broadband, home phone and international calling services to more than 80 countries. In 2014, Figgers Wireless launched a product called the Figgers F1 Smartphone. The phone detects motion in a vehicle and at speeds of 10 miles per hour or more it automatically turns to ‘safe mode’, which prevents texting while driving.
On Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility
Figgers is accustomed to stepping in and making a difference for marginalized communities. He also runs the Figgers Foundation, which donates to a variety of causes, including relief efforts after natural disasters, college scholarships for high school students and assistance with school supplies for teachers in need.
In 2017, the Figgers Foundation sent 500 satellite phones with unlimited calls, texts and data to help families affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“The hurricane destroyed the entire island’s telecommunications’ network,” Figgers said at the time. “We’re trying to do all we can to help these families communicate with each other, and especially their loved ones.”
Significant Contributions to the Telecoms and Health Industries
In 2020, Figgers patented a Wireless Inconductive Charger, which he believes could change the cellphone industry forever. With this invention, Figgers Wireless mobile phones start charging whenever they are taken into a room where they can link to the signal of the chargers, in the same way that a phone tries to automatically search for and connect to a WiFi signal.
To date, Figgers holds four utility and two patent designs in telecommunications.
Figgers has also launched FiggHealth, whose mission is to foster healthcare based on compassionate care, accountability and sustainability. FiggHealth uses leading-edge science to develop products that are affordable, high-quality, and reliable. Currently, FiggHealth offers a highly accurate, and easy-to-use blood glucose monitoring system that utilizes cutting-edge test strip technology.
This Black History Month and beyond, we encourage you to show your support by donating to organizations that promote Black culture and protect the rights and freedoms of members of the Black community in North America:
In the US: to donate to the NAACP, visit the following link.
In BC, Canada: to donate to Hogan’s Alley Society, click here.