Tuesday, July 19, 2011

East Africa Day 67 (Tues July 19): Back on Track

I took the bus about 30 minutes outside of the city center today, to meet up with Angela, a Fulbright scholar that I met through a friend in NYC, for lunch. I met Angela and two of her co-workers outside of the office building where they work, and we headed to a nearby restaurant.



Angela ordered for she and I in Swahili - I was impressed:) I was also very impressed with the food - beans, rice and a great assortment of cooked vegetables. (You're only supposed to eat food that passes the "C" test - cooked, chopped (peeled), or canned.) But the real highlight was meeting Angela. She was so welcoming, and is doing such interesting things. Her thesis, for example, was on the need for greater nonprofit collaboration in the Lake Victoria region, which includes Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. (All three countries intersect at Lake Victoria.)

In her spare time, Angela and a friend provide art classes to a group of street kids (all boys) who attend a school run by Catholic nuns in Kibera, a slum outside of Nairobi. she said that the kids love it so much that they sometimes show up at 8am, even though class doesn't begin until 10am. She invited me to join them this Saturday. I can't wait to check it out and meet the kids!

After lunch she gave me a tour of the offices/projects that she's working on. Wow - really exciting stuff. I felt like such a tourist, but snapped a few photos to document all of the great things going on because I felt so lucky to get to see it!

This is a shared workspace with free wireless, called iHub.





Nairobi’s Innovation Hub for the technology community is an open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers and designers. It is part open community workspace (co-working), part vector for investors and VCs and part incubator.

The iHub has a redundant 20Mbs connection, hardwired and WiFi, and it’s freely available to any tech person in Nairobi to use once they become members. Membership is free, our only requirement is that you are indeed involved in the tech space as a programmer, web designer or mobile application developer.

More info here. Just apply, get approved, and you can do your work here. There's a little coffee stand inside of the shared workspace, with what Angela said is the best coffee in Nairobi. Minus the coffee shop, it reminds me so much of the Hub in SoMa - made me love it even more, because I love the Hub so much! Made me wonder if there's a Hub in Nairobi ... if so, I have to find it!

Angela and I then walked downstairs to visit a brand new shared space for people who are creating mobile applications (for cell phones). The people working here have access to conference room space, etc. So exciting!!





After parting ways with Angela I took a blue bus like this one, back into the city center.



I stopped into a bank branch, and got stuck in a long line. Bruno Mars was playing over the sound system. Bruno Mars seems to have taken over Uganda and Kenya, based on my limited observations. Not that I mind:) The young woman standing in line behind me was singing along - I don't think she minded, either. Hearing Bruno in the bank reminded me of my favorite Youtube cover song - enjoy!!

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