Confidential & credible answers, when there’s no one else to ask.

Youth are susceptible to risky sexual behavior in the sprawling informal settlement of Mathare in Nairobi, Kenya. Hardworking, single parents, who make up the majority of the population in Mathare, have little or no time to supervise or communicate with their children. This often leaves young people with the critical role of passing on information about health risks, and this can lead to extremely risky behavior if that information is incorrect.

To address this issue, we are developing a project called Nishauri, in close partnership with Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), a youth organization with 25 years of experience of working to educate and empower young people in Mathare. Nishauri (“Please advise me” in Swahili) is a mobile counseling service, which seeks to connect counselors trained in HIV/AIDS and STI prevention to hundreds of youth seeking answers from a safe, private source. By harnessing existing local capacities of community counselors, Nishauri brings confidential, reliable, and timely information on sexual health and other sensitive topics to a broader cross-section of youth at risk, who may otherwise be reluctant to seek in-person advising.

Nishauri employs an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platform, complemented by Short Messaging Service (SMS). On their mobile phones, youth users can browse most commonly sought information on various health topics, or submit their own questions and receive responses from MYSA-trained counselors-- all cost-free and confidential.

Our Team

Katie Hill is pursuing her MBA and MS in Environmental Science. Prior to Stanford, she spent nearly 5 years with Acumen Fund. Katie’s primary work at Acumen involved building the Fund’s Energy Portfolio in India, where she lived for over 3 years. In her time at Acumen, she evaluated over 400 social businesses and invested more than $4 million in cleantech companies serving the poor. She also has work and research experience in Uganda, Nepal, Ecuador and India.

Eric Ruth is currently pursuing his MS in Computer Science at Stanford University, with a focus in Human Computer Interaction. He is interested in technology as a tool to improve quality of life for people around the world, and is passionate about the intersection of design, cognition, and computer technology. He graduates in June 2011, at which point he'll start work as a Product Manager at Facebook. Outside of work, Eric enjoys dancing, listening to music, and traveling.

Pablo Fernandez comes from Chile where he got an undergrad degree in Business and Administration (B.S.). After that he worked in investment banking (job that helped him realize what he didn’t want to do the rest of his life) and for the government, dealing with bureaucracy for almost 3 and a half years. He took part in the major (failed) project aimed at changing the public transportation system in Santiago, learning how important it is to prototype changes before going live. Currently he is finishing his Masters in Management Science and Engineering. His goals are to spread design thinking in Chile and to incorporate empathy and rapid prototyping when new programs are developed in the public administration looking to serve the underprivileged in the best way possible.

Risa Kitagawa is a PhD student in Political Science with an interest in judicial institutions in post-conflict situations and political theory. In the past she served as a peacebuilding consultant, conducting policy research on the UN Peacebuilding Commission and on early warning mechanisms that detect the onset of genocides. She is interested in the role of information technology as a means of preventing human conflict. Risa was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, and has a passion for reading and tap dancing. Women living in Mathare - one of Nairobi’s largest informal settlements - are commonly the targets of assault, mugging and rape as they go about their daily activities. These threats are greatest outside of daylight hours, but women must often travel very early in the day or late in the evening as they commute to and from work, school, the market or community latrines.