Meet The Guardians: Ken Banks

Yoti Guardians are influential individuals who ensure that Yoti always seeks to do the right thing, and that we are transparent about what we are doing and why. Guardians will bring their expert, independent perspectives and skills to three main responsibilities:

  1. Making sure Yoti optimises its products, services and partnerships to make life simpler for its user community.
  2. Ensuring Yoti stays consistent with its mission to build trust and give the user control of their personal data.
  3. Reporting any breaches of trust and representing any concerns shared by a significant percentage of the user community.

Ken Banks

One of the more long-standing challenges in international development, particularly in disaster and relief situations, is how people are identified as they receive food or financial aid in times of crisis. What excites me about Yoti, and the reason I jumped at the chance to be involved, is that I can see some very real applications of the technology in these very situations, and I’m excited at the potential for the kinds of tools Yoti are building to make a very real impact in the aid industry.

Ken Banks
Ken has a successful track record in developing products and services that use technology to benefit people living in poverty. He lives in Cambridge, England, but travels extensively due to his role as a global public speaker on innovation and tech4good topics. He has been recognised by a wide range of social entrepreneur networks and awards, including being selected as an Ashoka Fellow and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, as well as winning the Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest.

Ken is best known for founding FrontlineSMS (www.frontlinesms.com), a pioneering open source software that allows anyone to distribute and collect information via text message, with or without an internet connection. FrontlineSMS has now been used in more than 150 countries, with use cases ranging from monitoring elections to responding to natural disasters.

He also set up nGOmobile (www.ngomobile.org), an annual competition to encourage grassroots NGOs to innovate using mobile technology, and Means of Exchange (www.meansofexchange.com), which looks at how everyday technologies can rebuild local communities using tools such as bartering, time banking and swapping resources.

Ken published his first book in 2013, "The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator” about people who have ‘stumbled’ upon transformative innovations and brought them to scale, and has written on development, technology and innovation subjects for CNN, the BBC, the Guardian and Wired Magazine.

Ken brings to the Guardian Council strong experience in last mile technology access, and will help ensure that Yoti is accessible and empowering for people everywhere in the world, regardless of their economic position. Ken will also help us navigate the growing tech4good sector by finding partner social purpose organisations and initiatives that Yoti can work with to provide simple, safe and secure ID verification to amplify their impact.

The best place to stay up to date on Ken’s work is through his website (www.kiwanja.net) and also on Twitter: (@kiwanja)


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