Ken Banks

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Ken Banks
Ken Banks at PopTech in 2012
Ken Banks at PopTech in 2012
Born1966
NationalityBritish
Alma materUniversity of Sussex (1999)
OccupationEntrepreneur, consultant, book author
Years active2002 - present
Known forSocial entrepreneurship, mobile technology, global development, FrontlineSMS
TitleFounder of kiwanja.net and FrontlineSMS[1]
Awards

Ken Banks (born 1966) is a British social entrepreneur, author, and consultant in areas covering technology and global development. He is best known for developing FrontlineSMS, a mobile messaging platform.

Early life and education[edit]

Banks was born in 1966 in Jersey. He has an older brother and two younger sisters. His father died when he was 6 years old.[5] Banks was raised by his mother who was an amateur naturalist.[6]

At age 14, Banks developed an interest in computing and learned how to code.[7] He worked on a Commodore PET and developed some early computer-aided-learning programs.[6] At age 16, he was offered a job at the local technology company which he turned down in favour of completing his studies.[5]

Banks attended Hautlieu and Highlands College[8] where he studied business.

Career[edit]

Banks worked at a local bank where he gained experience in commercial computing, working initially on Burroughs B1700 mainframe computers. In 1993 he applied to take part in a Jersey government overseas aid school building project in Zambia.[9] In 1995 he traveled to Uganda to complete a hospital building.[9] Upon his return from Africa, Banks began studying social anthropology and development studies at the University of Sussex, from which he graduated in 1999.[9][10]

Banks worked at Cable & Wireless plc helping roll out cable television across the UK before the company sold its cable assets to NTL in 2000. He then moved to Forssa (Finland) and became a Business English teacher.

In 2001, Banks worked as a project manager at CERCOPAN, a primate sanctuary in Nigeria, helping rescue and rehabilitate a range of primate species. He suffered a broken leg in a bike accident in Calabar in September 2002 and was forced to return to Jersey to recover. In December 2002, he began working on one of the earliest mobiles for development initiatives with Fauna and Flora International (FFI), a global conservation organisation based in Cambridge, UK.[11] His work resulted in the launch of the wildlive! mobile portal in December 2003,[12] which provided images, animal sounds, conservation-themed games, and live news to subscribers.[13] Throughout 2003 and 2004, Banks travelled several times to Southern Africa meeting with FFI partners to explore ways in which mobile technology could be applied to conservation and development across the continent, and the developing world.[12] In 2004 he and his colleague Richard Burge published a 67-page report for FFI titled Mobile Phones: An Appropriate Tool for Conservation and Development? which was one of the earliest reports to examine the social potential of this rapidly expanding technology.[citation needed]

FrontlineSMS[edit]

Ken Banks carries out a demo of FrontlineSMS (2009)

In 2004, Banks was approached by Kruger National Park (South Africa) officials asking for a solution to update Bushbuckridge community members on changes and developments in the park using their mobile phones. After research it turned out that all solutions at the time required Internet access which, back in 2004, was a problem in the area.[13] In early 2005, Banks realized that a simple piece of software could be developed to send and receive multiple text messages (SMS) to and from mobile phones using a laptop with no Internet connection.[14] With an initial investment of 10,000 pounds[15] (just enough to cover the cost of the equipment[16][13]) Banks started to develop FrontlineSMS in summer 2005 and completed it within 5 weeks.[13] The sofware was officially launched in October 2005.[16] As the first users began downloading early versions of the software, Banks continued his day job, which was mobile application testing. In 2006, as interest grew in his work, he was invited to Stanford University as a Visiting Fellow on the Reuters Digital Vision Program,[17] mentoring and supporting other social entrepreneurs working on technology-driven social change initiatives.[16] Because funding was scarce, Banks lived in a VW camper van parked on the edge of campus for his two years there.[16]

Almost two years after its launch, FrontlineSMS was used by a Nigerian organization called Humanitarian Emancipation Lead Project (HELP) to assist Nigerians in reporting on their 2007 national elections.[18] The BBC ran a story, Texts monitor Nigerian elections, mentioning FrontlineSMS[19] and user downloads and global interest accelerated. Shortly after, Banks received his first grant from the MacArthur Foundation[20] and stayed in Silicon Valley for an additional year developing the software and teaching at Stanford. Banks later received further funding from the Hewlett Foundation, Open Society Initiative, Rockefeller Foundation and Omidyar Network.[15] In 2009, Banks started a two-year FrontlineSMS Ambassadors Programme with the Clinton Foundation.[21] His work led to several awards including The Tech Awards (2009),[4] The Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest (2011)[22] and the Curry Stone Design Prize (2011).[23] While developing FrontlineSMS, Banks had continued writing for his social innovation blog at kiwanja.net (a site he created in 2003) and conceiving other projects. His work was recognised through a PopTech Social Innovation Fellowship (September 2008),[24] National Geographic Emerging Explorer (May 2010),[25] Ashoka Fellowship (2010)[26] and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2012).[27][28][29]

In 2011, Banks was invited to join the UK Prime Minister’s delegation to Africa.[8][30][31]

In March 2012, Banks won the Cambridge News Business Excellence Award due to a special "Corporate & Social Responsibility" nomination.[32][33] Later that year he launched his new startup, Means of Exchange, which focused on using technology to rebuild local communities.[33][34] One of the project’s first initiatives was a "cash mob" during the London Olympics.[35][36]

In May 2012, Banks announced a management change at FrontlineSMS. Laura Walker Hudson took over the running of The kiwanja Foundation (which later became SIMLab) and Sean McDonald took over the running of FrontlineSMS. Banks took on a new role as Chair of the Board with the intention of focusing on other personal projects.[37]

After FrontlineSMS[edit]

Ken Banks presenting his Means of Exchange initiative at PopTech in 2012

In 2013, Banks was nominated for the TED Prize,[38] was invited as an expert to join the UK Department for International Development (DFID)’s Digital Advisory Panel,[39] and became Sussex University's Ambassador for International Development.[38] He edited his first book, The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator.[34]

In 2014, Banks launched a Donors Charter aimed at helping donors do better at funding global development projects within the information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) field.[40][41]

In 2015, Banks became the first Entrepreneur in Residence at CARE International,[42][43] took the position of Visiting Fellow at RMIT University (Melbourne) coaching the students of the "Business Research Showcase 2015" class[44]

Banks has given two TEDx talks – one in Cannes (March 28, 2015)[45] and the other in Munich (September 15, 2016).[46]

In 2016, Banks received the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science (2016) for his pioneering work with mobile technology and community empowerment.[2] He continues working on his projects (Means of Exchange, Donors Charter, Everyday Problems, altruly, Hacking Development and a for my children mobile app),[47] publishes books and participates in National Geographic, PopTech, Ashoka and Unreasonable Institute[48][49] initiatives acting as an advisor and mentor. In March 2018, Banks was appointed Visiting Fellow at Cambridge Judge Business School.[50]

Publications[edit]

Awards and fellowships[edit]

Year Recognition Recognition type Awarding body
2006 Reuters Digital Vision Program[17] Fellowship Stanford University
2008 PopTech Social Innovation fellow[24] Fellowship PopTech network
2009 The Tech Awards[4] Laureate The Tech Museum of Innovation
2010 National Geographic Emerging Explorer[25] Fellowship National Geographic Society
2010 Ashoka Fellow[26] Fellowship Ashoka
2011 The Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest[22] Award Tides
2011 Curry Stone Design Prize[23] Award Curry Stone Foundation
2012 Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts[28] Fellowship Royal Society
2012 Cambridge News Business Excellence Award[32] Award Cambridge News & Cambridge Business magazine
2016 ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science[2] Award Association for Computing Machinery


References[edit]

  1. ^ Lena Groeger (2011-06-15). "Look Ma, No Internet! Free Software Gives Text-Messaging New Reach". Wired. Archived from the original on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  2. ^ a b c Jenny Chapman (2017-05-10). "Major award for Cambridge computer luminary". Cambridge News. Archived from the original on 2017-11-20. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  3. ^ Lloyd Alter (2011-10-04). "2011 Curry Stone Design Prize Winners Announced". TreeHugger. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  4. ^ a b c Tom Foremski (2009-11-19). "Rewarding tech that benefits humanity". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 2017-11-20. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  5. ^ a b Banks 2016, p. 2.
  6. ^ a b "Inventor and Social Anthropologist: Ken Banks". National Geographic Society. 2011-01-21. Archived from the original on 2017-11-26. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  7. ^ Ken Banks (2014-06-01). "Trubute to a friend". kiwanja.net. Archived from the original on 2014-06-12. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  8. ^ a b <"Jerseyman joins UK mission". Jersey Evening Post. 2011-07-26. Archived from the original on 2017-11-26. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  9. ^ a b c Banks 2016, p. 4.
  10. ^ "International Development". University of Sussex. Archived from the original on 2017-05-10. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  11. ^ Imani M. Cheers (2013-02-25). "Changing the World, One SMS at a Time". International Reporting Project. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  12. ^ a b Ken Banks (2010-12-13). "Reflections on eight years in mobile". kiwanja.net. Archived from the original on 2017-08-26. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  13. ^ a b c d David Maxwell Braun (2010-09-29). "Solving eco challenges with grassroots messaging". National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2017-12-03. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  14. ^ Banks 2016, p. 7.
  15. ^ a b Livingston, Steven, ed. (2014). "FrontlineSMS:Grassroots M4D Innovation and the Challenges of Success". Bits and Atoms: Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood. Oxford University Press. p. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-19-994159-9. Retrieved 2017-12-07 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ a b c d Banks 2016, p. 8.
  17. ^ a b "Making the message count" (PDF). Falmer. No. 46. University of Sussex. 2007. p. 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  18. ^ Stuart Thornton (2011-01-21). "Spreading the Message". National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  19. ^ "Texts monitor Nigerian elections". BBC. 2007-04-20. Archived from the original on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  20. ^ Banks 2016, p. 10.
  21. ^ "FrontlineSMS Ambassadors Programme". Clinton Foundation. Archived from the original on 2016-11-10. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  22. ^ a b "Pizzigati Prize: Support the Winners". tides.org. Archived from the original on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  23. ^ a b "Can text messages start a grassroots movement?". Curry Stone Design Prize. Archived from the original on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  24. ^ a b "NEWS: kiwanja.net awarded 2008 Pop!Tech Fellowship". FrontlineSMS. 2008-09-16. Archived from the original on 2017-12-09. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  25. ^ a b "Emerging Explorer Ken Banks". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  26. ^ a b "Ken Banks". Ashoka (non-profit organization). Archived from the original on 2017-12-09. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  27. ^ Banks 2016, p. xiv.
  28. ^ a b "In your network: Ken Banks". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2017-12-09. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  29. ^ Dominguez, Alex (July 25, 2012). "National Geographic grows mission with chef fellow". Associated Press. Retrieved December 6, 2018 – via The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  30. ^ Nicholas Watt (2011-07-18). "David Cameron cuts Africa trip short over phone-hacking crisis". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  31. ^ Jim Pickard (2011-07-18). "David Cameron heads for South Africa with Bob Diamond and business delegation". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  32. ^ a b "Cash and kudos in Cambridge glory night". businessweekly.co.uk. 2012-03-23. Archived from the original on 2017-06-09. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  33. ^ a b Scialom, Mike (2012). "A new era for Banks" (PDF). Cambridge Business (November/December). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-26. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  34. ^ a b Kathryn Cave (2015-01-15). "Ken Banks interview: Technology for social good". IDG Connect. Archived from the original on 2015-08-06. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  35. ^ Monty Munford (2012-08-15). "Cash Mobs: how the internet can revive local shops". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  36. ^ James Pickford (2012-08-09). "'Cash mob' descends on bookshop". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  37. ^ Ken Banks (2012-05-29). "A transition announcement from our Founder, Ken Banks". FrontlineSMS. Archived from the original on 2017-12-09. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  38. ^ a b Banks 2016, p. 13.
  39. ^ Julia Chandler (2013-10-25). "Introducing DFID's digital advisory panel". Department for International Development. Archived from the original on 2016-10-09. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  40. ^ Ken Banks (2014-09-25). "A New Donor Code of Conduct". Stanford Social Innovation Review. Archived from the original on 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  41. ^ "Development projects plagued with inefficiencies. Solution? A Donor Charter". okintrnt.com. 2015-03-07. Archived from the original on 2015-05-08. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  42. ^ "Embracing innovation with our new Entrepreneur in Residence". CARE International UK. 2015-11-12. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  43. ^ Rob Goodier (2016-05-12). "Five Questions with Ken Banks: ICT4D Writer, Editor and FrontlineSMS Founder". Engineering for Change. Archived from the original on 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  44. ^ "Business Research Showcase 2015 highlights". RMIT University. 2016-11-13. Archived from the original on 2015-11-27. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  45. ^ "TEDxCannes". TED (conference). 2015-03-28. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  46. ^ "TEDxMünchenSalon". TED (conference). 2016-09-15. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  47. ^ "Side Projects". kiwanja.net. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  48. ^ "Mentors". unreasonableatsea.com. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  49. ^ "Author - Ken Banks". unreasonable.is. Archived from the original on 2017-12-12. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  50. ^ Ken Banks (2018-10-22). "Brain food". Cambridge Judge Business School. Archived from the original on 2018-10-22. Retrieved 2018-10-22.

External links[edit]