Ona Named One of TIME's 50 "Genius Companies" 2018
African data firm focuses on solving public health and social challenges through technology
Ona, one of five African companies selected for the list, focuses on solving public health and social sector challenges through technology. Using mapping and data technologies from its namesake mobile survey platform, Ona builds mobile apps such as OpenSRP, which helps frontline health workers deliver services more effectively to rural families. The mapping work, referenced in TIME, is the result of a four-year partnership with Zambia-based Akros to co-develop mSpray and more recently Reveal, an innovative approach to support precision service delivery. Ona also created Canopy, an enterprise data analytics and visualization platform, specifically to support the needs of humanitarian and international development organizations.
"As a young company coming up on our five-year anniversary, this is an incredible honor," says CEO Matt Berg, who was also one of the TIME 100 most influential people in 2010. "I looked at the list and recognized most of the names on it, so it's a great affirmation that we're pushing in the right direction and making an impact."
Berg and the rest of Ona's founding team, including CTO Peter Lubell-Doughtie, Head of Engineering Ukang'a Dickson and Head of Design Roger Wong, met at Columbia University where they worked on large-scale global development projects in Africa and India. Starting Ona has allowed them to work on smaller projects that are risky, but have enormous potential. "We have gradually built a talented team of bold thinkers and skilled technologists in Kenya," says Lubell-Doughtie.
Dickson adds, "We feel like international development is ready for the advanced technologies we're building. This tech is at the forefront in the West's private sector — our goal is to use it to deliver vital public services in other parts of the world."
Working with partners who are willing to take risks and explore new approaches to solving intractable problems has been vital to Ona's growth and achievements. "We really couldn't do this without them," says Berg. "In working with forward-thinking donors, the United Nations, and academic, technical and implementing partners, we've been lucky to have found like-minded organizations who have inspired and helped shape our belief in what's possible."
For the complete list of TIME Genius Companies 2018, visit http://time.com/
For more information about Ona, visit https://ona.io/