Techfugees first African hackathon is underway in Kenya!

After two years connecting and building a trustful relationship with local stakeholders like IGOs, NGOs, innovators, universities and policy-makers, Techfugees first local chapter in Africa is planning its first hackathon in Nairobi 🙌

In one month and a day exactly ⏱, our Kenyan Chapter will hold its first hackathon event gathering engineers, designers, social innovators, humanitarians and curious minds to imagine and prototype sustainable solutions to address one of the challenges faced by displaced people in this area.

Stay tuned on @TechfugeesK and keep reading if you are curious to learn more about Techfugees’ Chapter Lead in Kenya, Benjamin!


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Techfugees: Could you please introduce yourself and your team to the Techfugees community?

Benjamin: In addition to chairing Techfugees in Kenya, I am co-Director of Samuel Hall, a research organisation that works directly in countries affected by migration. Much of my work focuses on understanding how technology and innovation can support the needs of refugees and the forcibly displaced across the East and Horn of Africa, both in transit and once they arrive in their host country. My team and I work closely with a wide range of organizations from NGOs and tech start-ups, to universities and government departments. We facilitate the implementation of real-world solutions by providing the network and knowledge needed to ensure these solutions are relevant and sustainable.

How did you hear about Techfugees?

My team and I have been holding a number of informal tech meet-ups to explore the roles of technology, innovation and entrepreneurialism to support refugee communities in East Africa. I met Joséphine Goube (Techfugees’ CEO) at an event and we decided to combine our interests to start the first Techfugees chapter on the African continent.

Which are the displaced people’s main needs in your country?

Kenya is a nexus of migration across the East and Horn of Africa and is home to almost half a million registered refugees and asylum-seekers, some of whom have been living in the refugee camps of Kakuma and Dadabb since they opened in 1992. Within these two camps, refugees need range from acutely humanitarian (those arriving in poor health and with almost nothing from countries such as South Sudan) to developmental (those who are now settled and need support for basic needs such as food, shelter, health, and education). Mobile technology is often seen as a lifeline for refugees in Kenya and a platform through which vital services can be delivered.

What are your projects for the next days, weeks and months?

We are looking to launch our first hackathon next April 03rd-05th. This will be held at the iHub, Kenya’s leading technology incubator and part of the Google for Startups network. More news to follow soon!

With which kind of organization (tech, NGOs, universities, officials,…) do you plan to partner with?

At Techfugees in Kenya, we are in a unique position to partner with a wide range of actors that works closely with refugee and host communities; from multilateral ones such as UNHCR and IOM, to NGOs such as the Norwegian Refugee Council and tech hubs such as the iHub in Nairobi.

How can the Techfugees community help you? What are you looking for now?

We’re always keen to get feedback on our events as they happen and to support spreading the word of these events to those who might be interested in attending or supporting activities. Because of our unique position alongside many NGOs, universities and tech startups, we are also interested in hearing any ideas, or suggestions for hackathons or learning events we can propose to our partners during 2019!


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📇 Benjamin Hounsell, Techfugees Kenya’s Chapter Lead, Nairobi

Ben has over 15 years experience as a researcher, technology entrepreneur and development practitioner in low and middle-income countries, with a longstanding background in exploring the role of technology and innovation in the global south. Ben has authored multiple innovation studies for a range of organisations including UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDP, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Terre des hommes and the Humanitarian Innovation fund. In his work, and as Chair of the Techfugees Chapter in Kenya, Ben encourages collaboration between NGOs, multilaterals, academics and entrepreneurs to develop digital services that better serve refugees and low-income communities. Benjamin holds a PhD in Information Engineering from the University of Edinburgh and a cum laude Master in Development Practice from Sciences Po, Paris. He has also earned multiple honours and awards for his entrepreneurial achievements, including the EBAN Most Investable Business Award, the Scottish Entrepreneur Award and the Enterprise Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

For the coming months, Benjamin has been joined by Priscilla who’s Techfugees’ Regional Development Volunteer in Africa. Learn more about here on Techfugees Kenya’s page!


👉 Learn more about the Techfugees’ Chapters across the world
👉 Do you want to open a new one in your country? Let us know more here!



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