Inspirational technologist & social entrepreneur

Co-founder and executive director of Ushahidi  & BRCK Inc.

Country: Kenya

Sector: Technologist / Social Entrepreneur

Juliana Rotich is a Technologist, MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow, TED Senior Fellow and currently serves as Chair of World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Data Driven Development. Juliana is Co-founder of BRCK Inc.  A hardware company based in Kenya that makes BRCK and other devices. BRCK  is a self-powered mobile WiFi router that has on-board battery and storage, a backup generator for the internet. It provides redundant internet connectivity using wireless or ethernet backhaul. BRCK stands for “rugged internet for people and things”, and it takes its name from its sturdy boxy shape. Juliana is Co-founder of Ushahidi Inc, a non-profit tech company, born in Africa, which specializes in developing free and open source software for changing how information flows in the world. Ushahidi also acts a catalyst in innovation as part of the Making All Voices Count global challenge for development. She is an internationally sought after keynote speaker as well as strategic advisor to the councils of BASF, Microsoft 4Afrika and Waabeh Ltd. She is also a trustee of The iHub in Kenya and Bankinter Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Spain.

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Juliana's Startup Story 

Juliana’s interest and indeed passion for technology started at a young age, whilst still at school where she chaired her high school computer club. After school, she relocated to the United States to study computer science at the University of Missouri. After a successful academic study period, she took a job at US telecommunications operator Sprint in 1999, setting up routers and undertaking other hardcore techie projects, before eventually becoming a coder and project manager in Chicago. As she still wasnt earning a big salary at that point, she supplemented her income by working as a network operations engineer for a small data centre. There she had the best access to the Internet and felt a direct connection with it, something that was to inspire her for years to come. In 2005, she made a career move to become an Expert Accounts Specialist at Intercall Inc., eventually switching to work for the National Seminars Group (RUCECI) as an Email and Database Specialist. From 2007 to 2008, she worked as a Data Analyst for Hewitt Associates, and after a decade of garnering multi-faceted experience, she finally felt she was ready to take on another major challenge in her career....

Read more about Juliana's startup story →

There is no doubt that Juliana Rotich has blazed a trail for other women techpreneurs to follow, not just in Africa, but around the world. She is an inspiration, creating a powerful platform that is capable of changing the way information flows in the world. Because of her vision, and the collaborative platform that is Ushahidi, Juliana is actively providing the tools that encourage citizens to fully participate in their economies, have their voices heard, and make the right decisions during disaster situations. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief

What is Ushahidi?

"Ushahidi, the software, allows citizens to share their story, participate and report what is going on in their area using the device they have in their pockets"

Essentially, Ushahidi builds tools to democratize information, increase transparency and lower barriers so individuals may share their stories.

"I think the entrepreneurial drive has always been there. What we needed was connection to allow us to tell our story, as well as more investment. While we have foreign direct investment, we still need to do more to encourage local investment in the tech industry,”

“There is a link between increasing connectivity and GDP. If you increase broadband by 10%, it corresponds to 1,163% increase in GDP. Investment in connectivity is worthwhile. We've only got 15.6% penetration of the internet in Africa – there is so much more to do.”


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Awards & Accolades

Juliana's awards and honours include:

  • 2014 - Fortune ranks Juliana on their 'World's 50 Greatest Leaders' list
  • 2013 - Ushahidi wins the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions
  • 2013 - Juliana is honored with with an Impact Award at the DLD Women 2013 conference in Munich, Germany - an award initiated to recognize women whose outstanding commitment makes changes in society happen
  • 2011 - Juliana is named Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year in Africa by the World Economic Forum
  • 2011 - Juliana is named one of the Top 100 women by the Guardian newspaper and top 2 women in Technology 2011
  • Juliana serves on the advisory council of Microsoft 4Afrika
  • Juliana is a Director’s Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston
  • Juliana is TED Senior Fellow
  • Juliana is chair of the Global Agenda Council on Data Driven Development with World Economic Forum