Ona Named One of TIME’s 50 “Genius Companies” 2018


Ona 50 Genius Companies 50

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African data firm focuses on solving public health and social challenges through technology

TIME named Kenya-based data and technology company Ona one of the world’s top 50 “Genius Companies” of 2018 today, in its first annual list recognizing innovative businesses that are changing the way we work, live and play.

Ona, one of five African companies selected for the list, focuses on solving public health and social sector challenges through technology. Using mapping and data technologies from its namesake mobile survey platform, Ona builds mobile apps such as OpenSRP, which helps frontline health workers deliver services more effectively to rural families. The mapping work, referenced in TIME, is the result of a four-year partnership with Zambia-based Akros to co-develop mSpray and more recently Reveal, an innovative approach to support precision service delivery. Ona also created Canopy, an enterprise data analytics and visualization platform, specifically to support the needs of humanitarian and international development organizations.

“As a young company coming up on our five-year anniversary, this is an incredible honor,” says CEO Matt Berg, who was also one of the TIME 100 most influential people in 2010. “I looked at the list and recognized most of the names on it, so it’s a great affirmation that we’re pushing in the right direction and making an impact.”

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Digitizing Sexual Health Information With WHO


WHO and Ona Armadillo Project

In many parts of the world, young people lack access to accurate and understandable information on sexual and reproductive health. Myths and misconceptions are common and can lead to unnecessary anxiety, vulnerability to exploitation, and risky behaviour.

In an Ona partnership with WHO, Kenya’s International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH-K) in Mombasa, and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, ARMADILLO targets adolescents and youth who own their own phone, aged between 18 and 24 in Kenya and 13 and 17 in Peru.

Read more about the Armadillo Project.

Reflecting On My Internship Experience


Internships: a chance for university students to sit at desks doing menial tasks that contribute close to nothing while watching professionals work on meaningful projects. This was my initial thinking coming into Ona — I did not expect my experience interning to be anything memorable. However, I’m glad my experience was the opposite of what I expected.

My internship at Ona began on 7 May 2018. I had prepared myself for an uneventful day. I arrived at the office early in the morning hoping to give a good first impression. My day started with a stand up. My soon to be colleagues introduced themselves to me and I did the same. Afterwards, Dickson who is the head of engineering at Ona showed me where I would be sitting for the day.

At this point, I had already accepted my fate as an errand boy. But to my surprise, Dickson asked,“What project do you want to work on ?”. I was flabbergasted. I did not expect to participate in a project at all. He listed out some projects that needed help. I, being adventurous, chose to work on a new Django project called Kaznet. At first, I chose this because Django was something I was familiar with and I was sure I wouldn’t be lost in… but, boy was I wrong! Taking into account that at this point in my life I had never actually worked on an application that someone else would use, I would have no control on what the user would do or encounter.

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Ona On The Data Engineering Podcast


I was recently interviewed by Tobias Macey for the Data Engineering Podcast, the podcast about modern data management. We talked about the history of Ona and some of the technical challenges we’ve had to address to build global data collection platforms in humanitarian, international development, and global health verticals. You can check it out below.

With the attention being paid to the systems that power large volumes of high velocity data it is easy to forget about the value of data collection at human scales. Ona is a company that is building technologies to support mobile data collection, analysis of the aggregated information, and user-friendly presentations. In this episode CTO Peter Lubell-Doughtie describes the architecture of the platform, the types of environments and use cases where it is being employed, and the value of small data.

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OpenSRP is a 2018 Gavi Pacesetter


2018 keeps delivering exciting news for the OpenSRP community. Last week, OpenSRP was named a Gavi Pacesetter at the annual Gavi INFUSE workshop in San Francisco, CA. OpenSRP was one of only four Pacesetters selected from an initial pool of 220 applicants. Gavi Pacesetters are selected for their cutting edge technology and innovative approaches for tackling the challenge of immunization coverage.

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