The University of Nairobi convenes a number of stakeholders to organize and execute the annual Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) to support and accelerate the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region. The NIW has grown to become the meeting point for start-ups, innovators, entrepreneurs, enablers, established companies, government agencies, and academia to showcase their innovations, products, programs, and services, all contributing to the growing innovation ecosystem in the region. This year’s innovation week was hosted under the theme, ‘Innovation and Kenya’s Big Four Agenda’ . NairoBits, as an impactful partner that is leveraging technology to transform lives, was invited to take on an integral role in facilitating some of the sessions.
This year’s NIW was supported by stakeholders and investors from the government, development partners, diplomatic missions and corporates. NairoBits partnered with East African Civil Societies Organizations Forum (EACSOF) Kenya, FINGO, Innovation for Change, and Linking Industry with Academia (LIWA) to facilitate the Youth Showcase which highlighted the innovations that included those from our students.
Our very own Fareen Mwende- The Programs Lead at NairoBits Trust who was selected as a panelist to talk about the enabling role of technology to Persons with Disabilities.
She presented successful case studies from NairoBits, exploring on how modern design tools are changing the lives of special needs students. On her presentation, she highlighted the focus area of our operations, the young people in Informal Settlements who lack access to tertiary level of education, and the programs that NairoBits runs. That is; entrepreneurship, sexual health and reproductive rights and innovation and incubation program. She noted that our Inclusion and Diversity program had increased the percentage of people with disabilities accessing our training programs by 30%.
NairoBits ALUMNI A KEY SPEAKER AT THE NAIROBI INNOVATION WEEK
At the Nairobi Innovation week, NairoBits alumni, Mark Kamau who was part of the first cohort was the keynote speaker on the plenary session on ‘The Power of digital innovation and information sharing’. He made an insightful and informative presentation on the power of Human Designs in digital information and how they can connect to potential audience with ‘empathy’.
He cited the example of Doug Dietz, an industrial designer who developed a child-friendly Diagnostic Imagine Machine after being moved by the image of a little girl who was crying as she was led to the scanner that was initially designed by him. From this experience he realized that he had not embraced empathy in the design. The lack of empathy in design meant that the diagnostic scanner was not delivering on its functions especially with children who were scared of it as they could not keep steady for clear and accurate medical imaging. The revision of the design to include empathy solved this challenge. From this case in point, the relevance of empathy in design was clearly articulated.
At BRICS, a startup internet and creative solutions company, he leads the team towards implementing contextual designs that are ‘empathetic’ so as to ensure that they connect with people and deliver solutions that actually move people forward.
Mark accredits NairoBits for providing him with the platform that recalibrated his career paths in creative and empathetic design. He recalled how he was introduced to design and ICT by NairoBits, and how he is eager to mentor and empower other youth to exploit their full potential in the ICT sector.