Al Kags, 39


Open Institute

Al Kags has dedicated his life to service – from working to improve the ICT space in Kenya since 2005, to leading efforts that make governments in Africa trans-parent and accountable to their
people by using data.

With Sh200,000 as initial working capital, he has over time built businesses that have employed tens of people, hence contributing to job creation despite humble beginnings. Today, the worth of Open Institute stands at Sh100 million, 10 years after it was founded.

Al says he is driven by the need to leave a positive mark in the world and at the end, he would like his epitaph to read “I made life better for people and I served the society in meaningful ways.”A big part of his life is dedicated to finding lasting solutions for problems such as poor governance at the subnational level, healthcare in villages and improving education through homeschooling.

Al led Kenya to be the first country in Africa to use open data, developing a model that uses citizen-generated data to open untapped markets for businesses. His work has not been without challenges. He says the life of a social entrepreneur is not an easy one. It is harder to find investments in projects that are social in nature and whose return on investment is not immediate.

“I struggled with finding support for my ideas – both financial and even morally. Thankfully, there are many visionary people who are like me – who want to find sustainable solutions to really tough problems and who cared enough to invest in these social issues,” said the entrepreneur.

Besides work, Kags is passionate about writing and poetry. He maintains a blog in which he discusses a wide range of life issues.“I am a published author of a book, “Living Memories”, that is a series of stories by ordinary people, who lived in the extraordinary colonial years – 1930s, 1940s and 1950s,” he says. He describes himself as a budding futurist.

– Gerald Andae