What does it take to disrupt traditional ways of fighting poverty, delivering aid, and providing healthcare in Africa? Veteran digital health / healthtech entrepreneur Rowena Luk interviews social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and activists on how they went from an idea to demonstrating impact, raising funds, and creating sustainable social enterprises. For anyone looking for a better way to do good, explore the strategies and tools successful innovators are applying to make change that lasts. AidEvolved.com

If What You Need Doesn’t Exist, Go Build it - Ken Banks of FrontlineSMS

March 30, 2021

Ken Banks built the first version of FrontlineSMS over 5 weeks while unemployed at the home of his in-laws. Just a few years later, it was in use by development and conservation organizations in more than half of the countries in the world. He's described himself as a "scrappy" man who enjoys building his own websites and living out of a camper van for two years. And yet the world knows him as an authority on mobile technology for positive social and environmental change, as an adventurer and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and as someone who's brushed shoulders with and won the support of people as diverse as Desmond Tutu and Peter Gabriel.


In our conversation, Ken describes the unlikely beginnings of FrontlineSMS - including how little it was used in the first two years after it was built. He shares how he started out running a primate sanctuary in Nigeria, and his initial work in conservation before global health and development really entered his life. He shares the surprising chain of events that led him to specialise in mobile technology for positive social and environmental change. And he also opens up about the stress of running a global, mission-critical piece of software, as well as the challenges he's faced within the aid and development industry. Finally we talk about his move into the private sector in 2018, to work on digital identity with Yoti as its Head of Social Purpose.


To find out more, download the show notes at https://AidEvolved.com 

Let us know what you think of this episode on Twitter (@AidEvolved) or by email (hello@AidEvolved.com)