All Articles Tagged "ory okolloh"
Welcome to the “Work It!” column, where we take a look at business innovation of every kind.
Being an innovator in your field can be as easy as K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Sis. A singular vision focuses your efforts on becoming the best at what you do, and reduces your chances of being sidetracked or scattered. Ory Okolloh’s rise from blogger activist to policy manager for Africa for Google is a perfect example of the difference having a vision can make on your career.
Watch Vision Work
Okolloh realized early on that her true passion was using technology to ensure African voices were heard.
In 2006, Okolloh co-founded Mzalendo.com (“patriot” in Swahili) to track the Kenyan Parliament. The country’s TV and print media took weeks or months to sort through legal developments in the country. Meanwhile, Okolloh’s blog meticulously tracked the actions of political leaders and kept records of parliamentary bills in real time.
During Kenya’s controversial 2007 presidential election, which was marked by outbreaks of violence, she co-founded another site Ushahidi (“Testimony”). This time she focused on helping citizen journalists report incidents of violence and peace efforts. Before the experts dubbed the process “activist mapping, ” Okolloh’s site leveraged web, mobile, e-mail, SMS, Twitter, and Google Maps to visualize what was happening on the ground.
Ushahidi evolved from a website into a nonprofit tech company developing software platforms for citizen journalist initiatives. The organization was called on to launch humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a wildfire outbreak in Russia, and snowstorms in Washington DC.
The Perks of Being An Expert
Okolloh’s success in online activism allowed her to move on from blogging to become a spokesperson for citizen journalism, youth activism, and technology in Africa. In a world where non-experts are championed, Okolloh is an anomaly.
The trend of the moment is to know a little something about everything. It’s true; non-experts are able to pull from a variety of sources to come up with creative solutions. However, the old-fashioned approach of focusing on what you’re good at still has its benefits.
Thoroughly understanding the space where you work allows you to recognize needs others wouldn’t. Working where your passion and strengths intersects, ensures that you enjoy what you do, and won’t mind putting in the extra work required to be the best.
“One of the best pieces of advice I received while I was at the university was to get paid to do what you love to do, so that’s my philosophy, and much of the time you find it’s not mutually exclusive and your natural talents is what you end up loving to do. But passion – you spend so much time working, ideally you want to love it.”
- Ory Okolloh, “Africa’s Most Successful Women: Ory Okolloh,” Forbes
A clear vision for your career begins with looking inside. Start thinking about what you love, and how you can use your strengths to pursue it.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
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Ory Okolloh is a woman who juggles it all: she’s a mother of three, a wife and works as Google’s policy manager for Africa and is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. “I don’t sleep much,” she tells Forbes. “It helps that I love what I do and I am very passionate about it, so it doesn’t feel like work.”
The busy Kenyan native says she wants her kids to see how important it is to care about the world and have an impact. Her goal is simple: to focus on Africa’s untapped potential. She is known for her politically aware blogs, digital initiatives and her commitment to helping keep governments accountable. Okolloh stepped onto the scene with Mzalendo, a website that keeps Kenya’s government accountable. Mzalendo tracks each representative’s parliament activities, monitors and analyizes every bill and every speech. She then went on to co-found Ushahidi, a free open source platform for crowdsourcing crisis data. Ushahidi is a combination of eye-witness reports and has assisted in monitoring Kenyan elections, tracking violence in the Eastern Congo and even mapping post-earthquake Haiti.
With her online political accountability experience, Okolloh landed her current position as Google’s policy manager for Africa. In this position, the digital and political saavy young woman says she focuses on three priorities: getting more African users online, content for African online users and the role of technology in various African countries. But even though her professional career centers on digital initiatives, Okolloh believes that technology alone isn’t what Africa needs.
“I don’t think technology or social media alone can bring political change,” Okolloh said to Forbes. “At the end of the day you still need to go offline unto the streets. If you look at the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia- even Occupy Nigeria here, it might have been spurred and organized online, so technology plays the role of a facilitator, but at the end of the day the real impact was felt when the people went out to the street. So no amount of protests with a popular hash tag would have achieved the kind of impact that happened when people actually went out.”
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by Amma Bonsu
“If Africa misses the current global IT boat, there may never again be an opportunity for rapid wealth creation on the continent.” This call to action by Herman Chinery-Hesse, one of Africa’s leading techies, captures the desire of Africans around the world to leave their digital mark. Indeed, recent technological advancements have positioned Africa as an emerging market whose presence can no longer be ignored by the world. The Atlanta Post looks at the work of Chinery-Hesse along with 6 others who have developed tools to impact their communities at home and abroad.
They call him Africa’s Bill Gates. His real name is Herman Chinery-Hesse and he is the founder of theSOFTtribe (SOFT), a leading software development firm. Although based in Ghana, SOFT provides advisory services and technology solutions to businesses across the continent. Chinery-Hesse, a graudate of Texas State University, is passionate about information technology. In a poignant moment he explained, “Technology is the only way for Africa to get rich. We don’t have proper infrastructure and we can’t compete in manufacturing. But if you put me behind a PC and tell me to write software for a Chinese customer, then I can compete brain for brain with anyone trying to do the same thing in the U.S.” www.softtribel.com
To be a successful entrepreneur in Africa, you must have raw courage, and blind perseverance to overcome mind-boggling bureaucracy and limited access to credit. In spite of these challenges many Africans have tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit and have been rewarded with success beyond their wildest dreams. Spanning every region of the continent, The Atlanta Post has compiled a diverse list of African visionaries who deserve to be profiled not only because of the size of their wallet, but also because of the phenomenal impact of their initiatives. Here are seven men and women whose stories will inspire you not to give up.
The Golden Boy
Even when he was a school boy, Aliko Dangote was eyeing the profit margin from the carton of sweets he was selling to his mates. By the time he was 21 he had secured a loan from his uncle to start a company which trades in cement. With strategic alliances and a sharp business acumen, he turned his company, the Dangote Group, into a commodities conglomerate operating in several African countries. According to Forbes’ 2011 rich list, at age 53 Dangote is worth 13 billion dollars, making him the richest man in Nigeria, and the 51st richest man in the world. dangote-group.com
(Fast Company) — Much of the coverage of Google focuses on its domestic priorities–its rivalries with Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, its friendship with Verizon, its interest in net neutrality. But less well covered has been the tech giant’s efforts overseas, particularly its focus in the past few years on expanding Internet usage in places where it trails, like Africa and the Middle East. Google just scored a coup in moving those efforts forward–by hiring Ushahidi’s founder and director to become its manager of policy in Africa. You may know Ushahidi as the open-source platform for crowdsourcing information, created following the 2007 Kenyan elections as a way for people to report incidents of violence. The woman behind it was 33-year-old Ory Okolloh, a Harvard-trained lawyer who had previously created a site to monitor corruption in the Kenyan legislature.