|Industry||Information Technology, Mapping|
|Founder||Ory Okolloh, Erik Hersman, Juliana Rotich, David Kobia|
Editor: Temoso Sebetha
Ushahidi, which translates to “testimony” in Swahili, is a social enterprise that provides software and services to numerous sectors and civil society to help improve the bottom up flow of information.
The organisation uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as "activist mapping". This is the combination of social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial information.
Ushahidi is about allowing anyone to submit crisis information through text messaging using a mobile phone, email or web form. It has been instrumental in creating the Kenyan tech ecosystem known as the Silicon Savannah.
The goal of the platform has always been to help make all voices count by reducing technical and technological barriers to entry for all people working to capture what is happening to them, those around them, their environment and, essentially, to reflect back to society their lived experiences.
According to the company, its tools have been used by tens of thousands of individuals and organisations fighting for social causes in over 159 countries, whether for monitoring corruption in Zimbabwe, gathering real-time data on local poverty issues, or giving people a voice in the Syrian crisis.
Ushahidi started as an ad-hoc group of Kenyan bloggers hammering out code in a couple of days from various locations, trying to figure out a way to gather more and better information about the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya.
It was established after Kenya’s controversial election in 2008, which led to a dispute over which of the two candidates had won and escalated into ethnic violence that left about 800 people dead and many thousands displaced.
First developed within a matter of days during the aftermath of the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, by 2020 the technology is used all over the world. Since inception 9 January, 2008, Ushahidi has had two million users and 17 million unique visitors.
The Ushahidi organisation itself has become a respected social enterprise based out of Nairobi with over 30 staff scattered across the globe. In terms of reporting, Ushahidi was found to have greater accuracy by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University at reporting the breakout of violence during the 2008 election than Kenya’s own mainstream media outlets.
Because of Ushahidi’s success in Kenya, people in other countries began to use the platform and it has become a tool used by citizens around the world to report critical events in moments of crisis and to map when and where they are happening.
Ushahidi has never accepted government funds, instead it relies on grants from philanthropic organisations like Humanity United and the Omidyar Network to keep it going.
In October, 2018 Grant Facilitators Humanity United made a donation of US$200 000 (R1.5-million), Ushahidi were set to work and were ready to release an alpha version of Ushahidi by October 2008.
December 3, 2009, Omidyar Network announced a $1.4M grant to Ushahidi over two and a half years to Broaden Crowdsourcing Platform’s Impact.
In 2014, it announced a new round of funding to the tune of US$1.2 million to connect the 4-billion in emerging markets.
Awards and Recognitions
In 2009, Ushahidi won Kenya Humanitarian Open Source Award at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi.
In 2011, Ushahidi was present a Special Achievement award for the outstanding use of innovative technology for social good at Webby Awards.
In 2013, Ushahidi won $750,000 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions at MacArthur Awards.
In 2016, Ushahidi won Classy Award for Social Innovation in Boston.
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