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98 | Empathy Overdrive

Ken Banks, Founder of, devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change. He has spent the last two decades working on projects in Africa.

98 | Empathy Overdrive

Ken Banks is an award-winning social entrepreneur, and a mobile technology and global development expert. His early research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, an award-winning text message communication system today powering thousands of social change projects in over 190 countries around the world. Following a management transition at FrontlineSMS in mid-2012, Ken began focusing on publishing, speaking, mentoring, consultancy, and developing a range of internal projects.

Ken is also well known for his writing and blogging on Africa. His work has been published online by CNN, the BBC, and The Guardian, among others. He has written for the print edition of Wired Magazine, and has had guest chapters published in a number of collaborative books. 

In late 2013 he published his first book, “The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator,” an edited volume on social innovation with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The follow-up, “Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation: International Case Studies and Practice”, which came with forewords by musician and humanitarian Peter Gabriel and the Founder of Ashoka, Bill Draytonas, was published by Kogan Page in March 2016. 

More recently, Ken was presented the Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science by the Association for Computing Machinery in the USA, and in 2018 appointed Visiting Fellow at the prestigious Judge Business School in Cambridge. In April 2018 Ken closed down to take on a full-time role as Head of Social Purpose at Yoti, a London-based startup developing innovative digital identity solutions.

We were lucky to have Ken Banks on our Social Insights Podcast. Have a listen at the link above.


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our opening theme music for 2019 is "Bang Bang" and our closing theme is "Salvame" both by Eljuri from her album "La Lucha." The break music for this episode is "Umfazi Omdala" by Juluka from their album "Ubuhle Bemvelo."