Street-Level Genius: An African Maker Safari
From bicycle-powered mobile phone chargers to a helicopter built from an old Honda Civic and the remains of a crashed 747, Africa has been producing a unique strain of innovators long before the maker movement started trending in the US. With projects ranging from the practical (DIY biofuel systems), to the whimsical (home-made robots), street-level makers in the most resource-poor communities show time and again that the only essential materials for innovation are ingenuity and ambition. This example-filled panel discussion will be fun, eye-opening and inspirational. Come and see what lessons constraint-based innovation holds for us all.
I'm a South African living in Austin, TX. My background, interest and expertise are content and media related. I started out in book publishing, and headed up the non-fiction division of a prominent South African publisher before moving over to the magazine division of Africa’s largest media company, where I worked on launching new magazines and experimental projects for developing markets. I worked on experimental distribution projects in informal settlements (townships) and co-ordinated media sponsorship for the 2007 Soweto Festival.
I also worked on cross-platform projects and promoting the collaboration between print, broadcast and digital divisions of the company (Naspers).
More recently I have done freelance editorial and consultation work, and am now partner in a small mobile content start-up doing apps for kids.
John Kidenda was born and raised in Kenya. He has a deep passion for the African continent and is on the Board of The African Leadership Bridge, an Austin based non-profit that provides innovative scholarships to help talented African students come and study in the US and thereafter become change leaders within their home communities. He is also a senior associate at The Advisory Board Company. John is a die-hard longhorn and graduated from the McCombs School of Business with a double concentration in Computer Engineering and Accounting / Finance. He also received the Texas Exes “President’s Leadership Award” while at UT.
Juliana Rotich is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Ushahidi Inc, a non-profit tech company, born in Africa, which specializes in developing free and open source software for information collection, interactive mapping and data curation. Ushahidi builds tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories. Through Crowdmap.com, Swiftly.org and accompanying mobile applications, Ushahidi is expanding its global footprint and making crowdsourcing tools available and useful.
Juliana has worked in the telecommunications and data warehousing industry for over ten years. She is originally from Kenya, with a Computer Science degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She is a Technologist, and TED Senior Fellow.
Steve Daniels is the Editor-in-Chief of Makeshift Magazine, which features street-level ingenuity around the world. He is also an engineer at IBM Research, where he designs and builds technologies for emerging markets. Steve's research has focused on how people create, adapt, and use technology in resource-constrained environments, which he has covered in the book Making Do: Innovation in Kenya's Informal Economy. He is also the founder of A Better World by Design, a conference on social innovation held annually at his alma mater, Brown University.