Nerding in Nairobi

A few months travelling, living and hacking in Kenya

Goodbye Soko!

Yesterday was my last day at Soko and I want to say a big “Thank You” to the entire team. They were great hosts over the last 6 weeks and have given me the opportunity to learn more than I ever could have on my own. We’ll certainly stay in touch and I hope to come back to Nairobi in a few years to find them wildly successful.

Soko team dinner at Zen Garden
Soko team and +1s having a celebratory dinner at Zen Garden

I thought this would be a good time to share a little bit about the people I’ve worked with here in Kenya. Missing from this list but no less important are the Sokoers I’ve met from outside the office. In no particular order, meet Soko Nairobi:

Ella Peinovich – Founder & CEO

Ella takes the head management slot on the Soko team. She hails from Wisconsin and went to MIT for her masters where she met co-founder Gwen and husband/officemate Ken. Her background is in architecture but she came to Nairobi with Sanergy, got hooked on Kenya and founded Soko. Wish her luck with the new addition to her family coming next month!

Kate Mahugu – Founder & Tech Lead

Kate currently manages the tech team at Soko and will lead the Africa team while Ella is on maternity leave. She’s from Nairobi and brings a valuable Kenyan perspective to the founding team. iHub thinks shes the top tech woman in Kenya to watch and I think they’re onto something.

Alex Kihuna – Software Engineer

Alex focuses on Soko’s ops & admin tools. He likes to learn – he taught himself Python, some German phrases and is currently working on Spanish. He joined Soko shortly after university but ran a graphic design company with his friends for a bit first. In his words, “my life has been an evolution. There will be more and I hope it continues to be as good.”

Frank Ochieng – Software Engineer

Frank is focused on Soko’s webstore. In university, he interned with Google in Zurich and posted about it on the Google Student Blog. Frank says when he “grows up” he wants to be a sick designer. Frank can also get you where you need to go – he knows every gas station, bypass and back road to cut around the Ngong traffic.

Jacqui Wangina – Office Manager

Jacqui is our office manager plus a little bit of everything else. When we dropped our logistics person, she took over logistics. When one of our field officers stopped coming to work, she shouldered some of the burden. In the evenings, she heads downtown to school for communications and receptionist training. I can always count on Jacqui for some good natured teasing with a devious smile (who eats cornflakes in Kenya?!).

Liz Moran – Field Officer

Liz is now Soko’s one and only field officer. She’s in charge of working with our artisans, understanding their needs, getting their products on the site and more. Liz is an expat at heart and left New Canaan to study and work in the UK, South Africa and Kenya. She’s always out front joking around with vendors in a crazy mix of Swahili and English.