she shapes the city

Mugethi Gitau ~ Professional Geek

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Mugethi is Community Manager at iHub, Nairobi’s tech hub and co-working space. iHub has become a model hub in Africa for other countries and towns hoping to build something similar. It is part of Mugethi’s role to meet with these groups and offer insights on how this structure can work for them. She says she took “the scenic route” to iHub but what a journey it’s been!

For a woman that calls herself a “geeky girl” she has already trodden a pretty impressive (and varied) career path. From five years teaching business and ICT to school children in Mombasa, to microfinance projects in informal settlements, to malaria mapping projects and graphic design, this girl has done it all. Her current role is where all these disparate elements come together, for Mugethi it is “the sweet spot between community, entrepreneurship & tech”, all areas she is passionate about. She says this mix has helped her understand who is and where she fits in the hustle that is Nairobi.

Growing up in Naivasha and working for so long in the comparatively sleepy Mombasa, moving to Nairobi was a bit of a shock. “At first when I moved to Nairobi it was quite scary… it was like boom! All my friends were way more advanced in their careers …. and I started to feel a sense of urgency “Ok I need to do something fantastic ” so I could catch up with everyone.” Mugethi also struggled with the road system and constantly got lost in Nairobi’s streets. Now she understands how to navigate the town she’s come to call home, she explains “I started to realize I don’t need to conquer all of Nairobi I just need to conquer my little space”.

Mugethi’s little space centers around her sense of herself as an “eccentric geek.” She has always been fascinated by computers and drawn to physics and maths “subjects where you can see where its going”. She attributes her confidence to pursue ICT to her father. He was a strong, encouraging presence growing up, and supported her education. Mugethi believes it is dismissive comments from teachers and other influential figures that “plants a seed in girls minds that sciences and technology are not for them”. Mugethi and her team are going to change this “What we’re doing to is trying to get more woman to take up technology because it seems very intimidating to them”. Groups like Akirachix are actively recruiting women to get involved in tech and are offering “basic geek training” for girls who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance.

Mugethi says “I’ve understood who I am and what is my place here.” For someone who has already mastered so much in such a short time it seems Nairobi is just one more step in her story.

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