Ken Banks Profile
Ken Banks, Founder of kiwanja.net, devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change, and has spent the last two decades working on projects in Africa. His early research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, an award-winning text message communication system today powering thousands of social change projects in over one hundred and fifty countries around the world.
Following a management transition at FrontlineSMS in mid-2012, Ken has been focusing on a new project, Means of Exchange, which looks at how everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use.
Ken graduated from Sussex University with honours in Social Anthropology with Development Studies, was awarded a Stanford University Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship in 2006, and named a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow in 2008. In 2009 he was named a Laureate of the Tech Awards, an international awards program which honours innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. He was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in May 2010 and an Ashoka Fellow in 2011, and was the recipient of the 2011 Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest. That summer he won the Curry Stone Design Prize for his pioneering work with FrontlineSMS, and was selected as a member of the UK Prime Minister's delegation to Africa. In 2012 the Cambridge business community presented Ken with a "Special Achievement Award" for his work as a social entrepreneur. Later that year he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2013 he was nominated for the TED Prize.
Ken represents Sussex University as their Ambassador for International Development, and is a founding member of the British Government Department for International Development's "Digital Advisory Board". In addition to his own work, Ken mentors early-stage entrepreneurs through Pop!Tech and the Unreasonable Institute, and more seasoned entrepreneurs in the Ashoka network.
Ken is also well known for his writing and blogging on Africa, technology and innovation and his work has been published online by CNN, the BBC and the Guardian among others. He has also written for the print edition of Wired Magazine, and has had guest chapters published in a number of collaborative books. In late 2013 he published his first book. "The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator" is an edited volume on social innovation with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. When he's not working, Ken spends much of his time being bossed around by his young son, Henry, and twins Madeleine and Oliver.