It’s all a matter of perspective, and Erik Hersman (aka WhiteAfrican) is fortunate enough to possess a truly unique one. Born in Kenya and raised in both Kenya and Sudan, Hersman feels truly connected to his African roots. Despite having the opportunity to go elsewhere and being educated in the United States, Hersman returned to Kenya after getting his B.S. in Business Management from Florida State University where he splits time when he cannot be with his wife and three kids in Orlando, FL.
Hersman is the leading voice behind popular blogs such as AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican, and he has also co-founded Ushahidi and iHub. As a result of Ushahidi’s success in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, Hersman became an important voice in the discussion of cyber security and subsequently weighed in on “The Subtle Condescension of ‘ICT4D’.” He was also one of the first members of the TED organization, and today enjoys the title of senior fellow.
His advice to young professionals entering the ICT4D field really stood out to me as an indicator of his way of thinking. “It’s easy to talk about things,” Hersman says “and funders know this. You know, make sure you build it, get some use cases, hear back from people who are actually using it, and then go to the funders and you’ll have a much better chance of furthering that project.” With this pragmatic approach to issues, and scientific method for making changes, Erik Hersmean has built a reputation for himself as a practical problem solver and an important voice in the definition and progression of ICT4D.