If you want to know what’s happening in the digital and tech space in Kenya, pay a visit to the iHub in Nairobi. Established in 2010, it has become “ground zero” for digital innovation in East Africa, an open space for technologists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business people to network, collaborate and work on new ideas.
“This is where the investors are, this is where the start-ups come, this is where the media come to find their stories about who’s building what, and it’s really this melting pot of all the right people and the right things around technology in the country,” says Hersman.
Through its own groundbreaking digital platform, the team at Ushahidi soon realised that using technology to facilitate development is a great way to galvanise communities into action.
There’s always something going on inside the light and airy centre on the fourth story of a building that houses numerous other tech headquarters. Each level of the building fills a unique niche in the local creative economy: the third floor features m:Lab East Africa, a modern facility aimed at providing a more extensive working environment for mobile developers; the iHub Research department is located on the second floor; while Ushahidi and its hardware spin-off BRCK occupy offices on the first.
Hersman says: “Our job, we found out later after we built [the iHub], is really just to engineer the serendipity to make sure that people come together and good things happen.”