Erik Hersman

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Erik Hersman is an entrepreneur and technologist focused on advancing the use of technology as an empowerment tool in Africa. He is the CEO of BRCK, a rugged WiFi internet device designed in Kenya for use throughout the emerging markets. He’s a co-founder of Ushahidi, and has also established afrigadget.com and whiteafrican.com as key online communities promoting creative solutions for entrepreneurship and development challenges across Africa. In 2010 he founded the iHub, Nairobi’s innovation hub for the technology community, bringing together entrepreneurs, hackers, designers and the investment community. He is also a general partner in the Savannah Fund, and sits on the boards of Akirachix, the Kijabe Forest Trust, and the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI).
  • Faculty 2010 Social Innovation Fellows
  • Fellow 2008 Social Innovation Fellows
  • Faculty 2011 Social Innovation Fellows
  • Lab participant PopTech Climate Resilience Lab
  • Speaker PopTech 2011
  • Fellow PopTech 2008
  • Faculty 2012 Social Innovation Fellows
  • Speaker PopTech 2013
  • Session Leader PopTech 2014
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Archived blog posts

PopTech goes to Austin #SXSW

PopTech goes to Austin #SXSW

We came, we saw, we spent time with PopTech friends…and we made a bunch of new ones. SXSW – you treated us well! We just got back from Austin and our minds are buzzing with everything we saw and heard. And now, a recap of some of what we did. Read more »

Banks' new book chronicles innovations from gritty fieldwork

Banks' new book chronicles innovations from gritty fieldwork

As part of a fellows program several years ago, social innovation pioneer Ken Banks found himself at Stanford University where he was surrounded by young students studying social entrepreneurship. When Banks asked them about the focus of their academic work, those students responded that they were trying to learn the skills they needed to go out and change the world for the better.

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Image-wise: PopTech portraits from Alphachimp's Perrin Ireland

PopTech friend Perrin Ireland of Alphachimp Studios sketched portraits of PopTech 2011 speakers and Fellows in action, and we’ve compiled these pieces into a slideshow for your viewing pleasure. Read more »

This week in PopTech: Fortune, genomes and tons of data

This week in PopTech: Fortune, genomes and tons of data

There’s always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week’s highlights follows.

When PopTech volunteer Brent Danley prompted his 12-year-old daughter Skye to choose one PopTech speaker who she’d like to meet, she picked 2010 presenter and 2009 Science Fellow Sarah Fortune. Read more »

PopTech 2011 through your eyes

PopTech 2011 through your eyes

More than ever, technology allows us to easily share our experiences, and the photographic documentation of PopTech 2011 was no exception. We’ve taken a peek at Flickr, Twitter, Instagram and in our email boxes and we’re excited to reveal the best of PopTech, through your eyes. 

Camden harbor at dawn by Maria Popova

Camden Opera House

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Saturday round-up: Highlights, snapshots and quotable moments

Saturday round-up: Highlights, snapshots and quotable moments

Today we met an eleven-year old boy wonder, heard from Botswana’s first female high court judge, listened to the Earth through its auroras and earthquakes, and got the lowdown from the White House’s new head of the Office of Social Innovation. The “original Batman” taught the crowd echolocation, a man drew circles with his body and two Pakastani friends harmonized about their homeland

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This week in PopTech: Out of this world

This week in PopTech: Out of this world

There’s always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week’s highlights follows.

Photographer Colin Rich continues to delight our curiosities about the sky above with his DIY camera-balloons, one of which he launched at PopTech 2010. Well, Rich and&Read more »

This week in PopTech: Feast of the Fellows

This week in PopTech: Feast of the Fellows

There’s always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week’s highlights follows.

The Harvard Business Review profiles 2010 Science Fellow Sinan Aral‘s latest research on “Viral Product Design.” Sinan’s work proves that you can engineer Read more »

This week in PopTech: Concerts, community health and college

This week in PopTech: Concerts, community health and college

There’s always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week’s highlights follows.

Live 4 Sendai, a live concert and fundraising event for Japan, boasted many familiar faces from the PopTech stage. The event was hosted by Ze Frank (PopTech 2004, 2005) and Read more »

This week in PopTech: Unplugging, mobile mapping and affordable drugs prevailing

This week in PopTech: Unplugging, mobile mapping and affordable drugs prevailing

There’s always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week’s highlights follows.

As we ease back into the post-holiday grind, Jonah Lehrer sheds light on why going on vacation and unplugging from technology aids creative productivity.

An Ushahidi mobile Read more »

Visualizing Data to Drive Social Change

Several weeks ago, PopTech held a Chicago salon that focused on social mapping, and the ability to leverage networked technologies and old-fashioned communication alike to express local knowledge and perceptions as well as economic data and other figures that are often otherwise practically inaccessible to citizens.

Two of the featured speakers offered ideas about

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Social Mapping Thoughts from Patrick Meier

Social Mapping Thoughts from Patrick Meier

As we prepare for the PopTech salon “Social Mapping and Social Change” in Chicago next Wednesday (there is currently a waitlist, and the event will not be streamed, but look for a blog post afterwards and tweets with the #socmap hashtag on Twitter), we are thinking about how social mapping might be defined.

One of the salon speakers, Patrick

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Updates: Gaming Ushahidi, Governing Braddock, GSBI Cohort 2010, and Chimpanzees

A few updates from the PopTech network in the past week:

Ushahidi’s Patrick Meier (PopTech Social Innovation Fellows Erik Hersman and Ory Okolloh are Director of Operations and Executive Director of Ushahidi, respectively) on information vandalism.

Read the great comment thread and watch video from the post:

(Ushahidi is

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FLAP Bags to Haiti; Dr. Serena Koenig on Health Care in Haiti

FLAP Bags to Haiti; Dr. Serena Koenig on Health Care in Haiti

Very soon, we will ask for your help as we send FLAP (Flexible Light And Power) portable light bags with a solar panel, an LED, and a USB charger to relief efforts in Haiti.

The FLAP bags are a prototype off-grid light solution (video below) that can be used in undeveloped areas and emergency situations:

If you

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Haiti: Ways to Find Information and Take Action

Haiti: Ways to Find Information and Take Action

The images coming out of Haiti in the days since the devastating earthquake have been horrifying. Although the news today is beginning to report increasingly unsettled conditions, there continues to be a flood of support for the rescue and relief efforts.

A few members of the Poptech community have been directly involved:

Ushahidi (founded by Poptech Social Innovation

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Fellows Friday: Recent Tweets We Have Seen and Favorited

Fellows Friday: Recent Tweets We Have Seen and Favorited

Our group of 2008 and 2009 Social Innovation Fellows is incredibly active—and they often work together and link to each other’s work.

Some of our favorite tweets from them in the past few days are below; you can follow them on Twitter on the PopTech SI Fellows List.

Jason Aramburu of @re_char is tweeting from the NE Biochar

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Elephant Stalkers, Lion Warriors and Species on the Move

Elephant Stalkers, Lion Warriors and Species on the Move

At today’s special session “The New Edge of Conservation”, leading practitioners of ecological conservation Katy Payne, Healy Hamilton and PopTech Fellow Paula Kahumbu walked us through some of the latest technologies being employed in their respective fields.

Animal communication expert Katy Payne played clips of whale and elephant songs and

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More From the 2009 PopTech Fellows Program

More From the 2009 PopTech Fellows Program

All images in this post are CC images from 2009 Teaching Fellow Erik Hersman from his Flickr set.

We have had a busy few days at the PopTech 2009 Fellows Program (you can follow the #poptech hashtag on Twitter to see more of what we have been talking about) as the PopTech 2009 conference (streaming live), starting on Wednesday and where each of the

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