Tag Archives: featured

Mobile technology innovation rock stars, East Africa

I’m in Nakuru, Kenya and I just committed to extend my stay in the country for another two weeks. Destination, Lamu Island on the Kenyan coast. Flight change to The States, check. Flight from Nairobi to Lamu, check. Booking my overnight accommodations for a mere $35/night (including breakfast…and a bonus lobster dinner, but that’s another story…). But wait, they can’t take a credit card. What to do? I worked it out to have the establishment I was staying at in Nakuru, run my card, and then they M-Pesa’d the money to the owner of the little beachside bed and breakfast I was staying at. No credit card, no checks. All through mobile technology. (“M” is for mobile, “Pesa” means money in Swahili). I didn’t really think much on it at the time. Convenient for me, now a nice leisurely re-visit to Lamu.

On returning to The States, I wanted to learn more about the place I had spent the last month in. I set up my google alerts generally to “Kenya.” I get a weekly email digest of the news and happenings… online. What is catching my attention is all of the tech focus and I learn more about the M-Pesa technology. It’s quite amazing to say the least.

M-Pesa was launched in 2007 by Safaricom, a mobile service there similar to our Verizon Wireless. As of 2012, more than 17 million Kenyan’s (roughly 70 percent of the adult population) were using M-Pesa to pay for things from groceries to the little B&B on the coast. About 25% of the countries gross national product is running through mobile phones. Kenya leads the world in mobile money. And with that a bigger technology and innovation hub has emerged out of Nairobi.

Kenyan developers are designing straight to the hand-held mobile device. I can only imagine how their innovators and designers are processing information with mobile in mind, not getting distracted by designing for the computer.  Hopefully, Indianapolis-based ExactTarget has Nairobi on their radar. I think we have a lot we could learn from one another.

PBS Newshour


Antigua, Guatemala

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Mark and Gina Schmidt put a beautiful day together for us in Antigua. We started out at Cerro de la Cruz which overlooks the city of Antigua and the volcanos. Then drove into Antigua. First stop was Ruinas del Convento Mercedario, built in the 18th Century. After that, off to the markets. The Schmidt’s made arrangement’s for us to dine at Tartine’s (4a Calle Oriente no. 1C, Antigua) for lunch on their outdoor balcony laying over the Ruinas de la Catedral. Simply beautiful, delicious, perfect. We managed so see the volcano erupt while there as well. After lunch toured the Catedral and headed back to Magdalena.

Once back we delivered the two chicken coops. The first family, one of the daughter’s is in the baking school. The second family, one of the children were in La Esquela de Arte. She shared with us that she worked a few days a week at a factory nearby trimming the ends of beans for something like .25 US/day. One of her older boys would work as well. We ended the day with Worship and getting to spend some quality time with Brock Johnson of deepStream.

Conversations at bars. First Edition.

MacNiven’s. Haggis. Craft brews. Scotch and Patrick, tending bar. What’s not to like? The Haggis, oh my it had been too long. I enjoyed it with a taste of the youngest scotch I have ever had, aged 3 years. Who knew. But with the description: ‘youthful, peat and smoke.’ I knew it was for me. Spot on. The last time I had Haggis was in 1998. I worked an event at Christ Church Cathedral with my friend Elizabeth. It was prepared there. I watched and assisted from start to finish.

My roommate and I went to MacNiven’s specifically for Sun King Brewing’sTIMMIE, oaked imperial stout. I had it before, but was craving more. Oh wow, how the flavor of vanilla oak, deep fruit maybe even a hint of lavender come out of it as it warms. This is a big one at 10%ABV so proceed with caution. I met a gentleman named Kevin. He was visiting Indianapolis for the first time. In town for business. I love to chat with first timers on what did you expect Indianapolis to be like and what have you noticed since you have been here. He ordered a Highland Scotch with a splash of water. He’s in town for the week for training. In town from Washington DC suburbs, married. Kevin was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the city was on foot as he had walked to MacNiven’s from Rock Bottom. I went into tour guide mode. Did you know that Indianapolis is #2 behind DC for a city with the most monuments? I had learned he was into beer and recommended Tomlinson Tap Room and a brewery visit at Sun King Brewing. We spoke about the history of Indianapolis, Universities, residential population. For those of you in Indianapolis, what are you excited to share about our fair city with people you meet at bars?

Another gentleman sat down next to me. He ordered a Lagavulin 16 year, neat. We were meant to be friends. He had his yellow note pad and was there to get some work done. I later learned he was making notes for a book. I learned that he was in the business of trees. Who would have thought, starting a business in trees? He travels to consult cities and companies on selecting the right trees. He’s in Indianapolis maybe two times a year. He started his business 8 years ago. Great conversation that just kept leaping into deeper thoughts on business and entrepreneurship. Passion. I could tell he liked to have conversations at bars. He filled my cup a little bit and I him. Would you like another he asked. Nah, I need to head home. What is your name? Mark. Well, Mark, it was a pleasure.

My oh my, how I love Conversations at bars.