Why digital promotes inclusion

Recently, many people have told me, “You can’t be doing social good because you work for a corporate, and they can only ever be driven by profit.” It is stated with the certainty that you might use in stating, for example, that the sky is blue or ice is cold.  This is almost always followed by a look that says, …

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Kenya, Storyteller

Fail fast, aka life in product development

When you think agile development, you probably think of Silicon Valley coders post-it-ing their way to the next killer app, poring over user analytics seriously through their geek-chic hipster-something spectacles. However in recent years there has been a push in other industries to apply the principles of ‘agile’ to get results faster and more efficiently than their competitors. This often …

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Kenya, Storyteller

So, what do you think of Kenya?

Despite the fact that I have been in the country for over a year now, I still struggle to answer this question. Not because it’s never asked – because it is normally one of the first questions asked by a Kenyan or expat after ‘What is your name?’ and ‘Where are you from?’ (assuming that the follow-up was not ‘But …

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Kenya, Storyteller

You know you’ve been driving in Nairobi for too long when…

…you have a favourite pothole. …you’re a bit upset when they fix your favourite pothole, because it helped you navigate. …spending an hour in traffic is normal. …you’re slightly concerned that the man directing traffic at the roundabout doesn’t have an AK-47. …you determine whether a mall is open not by the lights but by whether there are AK-47s outside. …

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To 2014, and new adventures

A mentor once told me that the second fastest way to learn is by doing. The fastest way to learn is by doing AND writing about it. So to take his words of wisdom, here’s a few of the learnings from the crazy year that has been 2014. Facebook cemented its ambition to be the number one portal to the internet through all devices …

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Kenya, Storyteller

Africa Yoga Project

The rumble of expectant voices is already audible from the stairs. It’s 9:45 on a Saturday morning and we’re at the Shine Center, the Nairobi training hub of the Africa Yoga Project. We’re 15 minutes early but already the room is filled with a variety of people: locals, expats, students, mothers, wide-eyed children, muscled dancers and embarrassed beginners. As more people stream …

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Kenya, Storyteller

Four food stories that aren’t whites serving blacks mac and cheese

The world’s media coverage of Kenya has traditionally been quite negative: refugee camps, sprawling slums and more recently rampant terrorism. So no surprise that last week’s New York Times article ‘Nairobi’s Latest Novelty: High-End Mac and Cheese, Served by Whites’ caused a bit of a stir. The review of new restaurant Caramel was intended as a double stereotype reversal: white …

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Kenya, Storyteller

Hello Danger

Self-learning Swahili has proved to be challenging. This is because: 1) Depending on who you ask, there are about 18 noun classes and 15 tenses, which doesn’t seem to have been cohesively documented and explained on the internet. 2) Conversation with mzungu (foreigners) is usually in English by default, but attempting to listen to other conversations yields a mix of English, Kiswahili, Kikuyu …

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Kenya, Storyteller

Coffee with Harish, GM of Ogilvy Kenya

“There are many people who come here wanting to change Africa,” says Harish Vasudevan, “but actually some just come for a holiday and stay for the weather.” As if to support him, the slightest breeze ruffles the umbrellas at Artcaffe The Junction while Nairobi’s mild spring sun beams on us. The advertising industry is often used as a bellwether for …

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Kenya, Storyteller

Hiatus

There has been a bit of a break here lately, partly because of extensive travels but mostly because there has been a lot of creative work going on. A growing body of evidence and a decent amount of pop business hype (this New York Times article, for example) suggests that taking a break helps you to come up with more ideas …

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Kenya, Storyteller