“We are proud to present this award to strong women who, using digital technologies, improve, enrich and even save people’s lives by showing braveness and commitment,” DLDwomen founder Steffi Czerny comments on the award, which was presented by Gabriele Zedlmayer, Vice President Global Social Innovation at Hewlett-Packard. Zedlmayer: “Juliana Rotich is an exceptional individual – technologist, creator, innovator and an optimist who actually turns her visions into reality.”
Juliana Rotich grew up in Kenya and later moved to the United States to study Information Technology and has worked in the US IT industry with strong ties with her African roots. Very early on, she understood the need of the people in Africa not only to use, but also to develop digital technologies.
When, in 2008, Kenya experienced violent confrontations between the rivaling parties following the national elections, Rotich founded the Internet platform Ushahidi, which means ‘witness’ in Swahili, the Bantu language.
Ushahidi allows people to report a violent incident or disaster via text message or email and request help and/or medical supplies immediately. If possible, the reports are checked right away and depicted on a map on the website, detailing information on time and place. International relief organizations also use the platform, whose open source technology has meanwhile been applied in countries such as Haiti, Chile and Palestine.
Rotich is at the moment involved in the making of BRCK, an internet modem for off-grid communities.