The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

2015 Mandela Washington Fellow: Kelvin Macharia Kuria

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This is part of an ongoing series of articles on the Rockefeller Center's participation in the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI.

Kelvin Macharia Kuria is a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow from Nairobi. Before coming to Dartmouth, Kelvin founded his own company, earned a Bachelor’s of commerce degree from the University of Nairobi, and received a diploma in Entrepreneurship and Leadership from Africa Leadership Academy. He has been named among Forbes’s Top Thirty Most Promising Entrepreneurs in Africa and has been awarded CNN’s African Startup of the Year. 

Kelvin’s entrepreneurial spirit dates back to his years in primary school. As a young boy, Kelvin was always intrigued by technology and its potential to provide solutions. In class 7, he devised an innovative watch that reads shadows to tell time. In high school, Kelvin invented an organic insecticide.

His interests later led him to improve security systems using CCTV cameras that store images, videos, and sound without cables. He developed the prototype circuit board for this project in just five months. Today, Kelvin has created four different types of these systems.

Kelvin’s curiosity did not let his accomplishments stop there. He began to pursue his interest in security-related business ventures and researched suppliers in South Africa, India, and the United States. Three years ago, Kelvin founded his own car-tracking company: Sunrise Tracking Limited. His company sets itself apart from others by offering revolutionary car tracking systems, biometrics products, and CCTV surveillance. Kelvin developed an innovative fleet management system application that sends car owners reports directly to their handsets.

Managing his company, Kelvin currently pays seven full-time professionals. When asked what inspired him to come to Dartmouth, Kelvin responds: “I want to network, and here is the place to do so.”

Unemployment in African countries has reached unimaginable heights. Kelvin wants to combat this by expanding his company across Africa, creating opportunities through the network he is building here.

Kelvin says that, in the short time he has been here so far, he has recognized a world of cultural differences.

“If I want to reach the United States someday, I need to understand its culture,” says Kelvin.

One thing that particularly stood out to Kelvin was how Dartmouth students were happy to help him find his way around and how American drivers feel responsible for the safety of their cars' passengers. Traits that we take for granted here are unheard of in his country. As a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow, Kelvin is challenging these differences by crossing cultural barriers and building an expansive, diverse network. 

-Written by Nikita Bakhru '17, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant.

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