We’re 19! Today marks 19 foundation years of us leveraging technology to transform lives. A few things were happening almost two decades ago when the idea of NairoBits was springing to life.
The year Y2K was almost upon us, and people thought that the world was basically coming to an end. Drop us an email if you sold everything you owned and prayed facing Mt.Kenya, it’s for research purposes, we promise. Millennials need not respond.
The Internet was only 4 years old in Kenya, with only 15,000 mobile subscribers, but had begun to set the pace for the modern day Silicon Savannah, by becoming fully recognized as a service for development. Kenya’s tech revolution, particularly in the mobile industry, has been a marvel to watch, as captured in this article by Selamta.
Back at NairoBits, our first class with 20 young people was underway. In two months, they had made their own websites with self made photos of their city,stories, self portraits and had taken part in an online exchange with Dutch students. The works made were exhibited in the National Museum of Kenya, the first digital exhibition to ever take place at the museum.
“One of the best moments for me was watching our students and families, some who had never been to a museum before, looking at the computer works they had created, while standing side by side with people like the Dutch ambassador and big corporate sponsors‘ – Emer Beamer, NairoBits co-founder’s statement in The Butterfly Paper publication, which captures NairoBits beginnings.
This led to the opening of satellite centers in informal settlements across Nairobi, with a mission to reach as many young people as we could. We quickly grew from 1 center in 1999 to over 10 centers in different informal settlements such as Kibera, Mathare, Mukuru, Kayole, Korogocho, Eastleigh and Kariobangi.
Being the first organization to use technology to train marginalized youth in Kenya was a responsibility we were happy to take on and upscale. We are deeply honored to be recognized as industry pioneers and to have paved the way for other organizations to take on the challenge of educating and empowering our youth using ICT.
As we celebrate incredible milestones of 19 years, 6,000+ alumni, over 10 satellite centers, incredible donors, 30 business partners, awards recognition, a diverse team and impact across different sectors, we’d like to recognize the effort played by each and every one of you on this journey. Celebrate with a slice of cake wherever you are.