Persistence is one of the defining factors of a successful journalist. However, there is a fine line between persistence and pestering and over the last 14 years I’m sure I’ve blurred that line on various occasions. When I first started looking for stories to tell and innovators to profile in Tanzania and Kenya I immediately was intrigued by Su Kahumbu and her mobile application iCow. I saw her TED talk and knew we had to track her down. A dozen emails, a bit of Twitter and Facebook stalking and a LinkedIn message later I was no closer to securing an interview than when I started. With our days in Nairobi quickly coming to an end I was determined not to leave this country without meeting Ms. Kahumbu.
If your interview subject won’t come to you…go to them! After a chance meeting at breakfast yesterday, I learned about the Livesock Breeders Show Trust and the possibility that iCow would be there. Armed with our gear, we made our way to Jamhuri Park, navigated through the maze of stands and livestock and stumbled upon a press conference! Su Kahumbu was about to make the biggest announcement of her career as iCow moved out of the prototype phase, joined forces with Safaricom (Kenya’s largest mobile carrier) backed by USAID was going public!
With 1.6 million dairy farmers in Kenya, 45,000 small scale farmers are currently using iCow to maximize their investments by accessing vital information throughout their cows’ lifecycle including awareness and management of the cow estrus cycle, optimum animal nutrition, feed production, milk record keeping and prevention of cure and milk related diseases. Flanked by iCow user and dairy farmer Mathibu Mwangi, Safaricom CEO Robert Collymore and USAID/Kenya Mission Director Karen Freeman, Su Kahumbu and her team are aiming to secure Kenya’s leading role as an technological powerhouse.