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Erik Hersman - Ushahidi, Afrigadget & iHub
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ERIK HERSMAN is an international technology influencer with a keen eye on the impact of web and mobile technology innovation across Africa. Raised in Sudan and Kenya, Erik brings unique energy and insight to the world of technology and innovation – bridging the gap between Africa and Silicon Valley. He has a B.S. in Business Management from Florida State University.
There is a paradigm shift. The PC users in the West, do not understand the users of the mobile web in Africa. So it takes an entrepreuneur from Africa to answer some of those hard questions.
— Erik Herman, May 2011
As part of the Ushahidi strategy he has been building the iHub (Nairobi's innovation hub) since early 2010, a place that has grown to 3000+ Kenyan developers, designers, and entrepreneurs with connections in the corporate, academic and investor sectors.
An avid blogger, Erik writes two influential blogs: WhiteAfrican, where he writes about technology on the African continent, andAfriGadget, a group blog that celebrates African ingenuity. He is frequently a speaker at meetings and conferences dealing with technology in Africa, mapping, blogging and web application development, including; TED, PopTech, DEMO, Picnic, SXSW,Where 2.0 and Web 2.0. He is a TED Senior Fellow, a PopTech Faculty Fellow, sits on the Safaricom Innovation Board and is a founding organizer of Maker Faire Africa.
Erik grew up in Kenya and Sudan and is, as he puts it, "one of those guys who's much more 'at home' in Africa." From his home in the US, During the Kenyan post-election crisis of 2007-2008, Hersman helped create the website Ushahidi, a place to report incidents of violence via the web and texts. The original Ushahidi tool was written in two days; later that year, it won the NetSquared Mashup Challenge (and a nice check to help further development). Now the Ushahidi team's next project is to build the Ushahidi Engine, a free and open-source tool for crowdsourcing information and seeing communities online.