MERL Tech Jozi 2018

MERL Tech Jozi 2018 is brought to you by, Genesis Analytics, Jozihub, and Kurante. We are actively seeking sponsors, so please contact us if you’re interested!

Steering Committee

Ambika Samarthya-Howard is a video producer and currently the Head of Communications for   She received her MFA in Film at Columbia University and has done art and media projects in Japan, Bollywood, and West Africa.  She worked as a senior producer in community television in Brooklyn, with the BBC Media Action in Nigeria as a broadcast TV Trainer and with UNICEF as a Communications Specialist.  She leads the content curation and writing for the Medium Publication, Mobile For Good, and has spoken about social good projects and inclusivity at various conferences around the US. She co-authored two chapters on Free Basics and Scaling Mobile Platforms Through Partnerships which have been published in the recently published book Affordability Issues Surrounding the Use of ICT for Development and Poverty Reduction.

Ashleigh Fynn is an Analyst in the Evaluation for Development practice at Genesis Analytics (one of Africa’s largest economics based consulting firms). She has a Masters in Development Economics from the University of Cape Town. Ashleigh has focused her career on evaluating programmes surrounding financial inclusion and youth employment. To engage youth in evaluation, she experiments with data collection on platforms such as WhatsApp (collecting voice notes, pictures and text data) and Facebook (qualitative data collected through user-generated content and quantitative data collected through reach, impressions, likes, number of comments and shares) and is able to translate this data into an easily digestible format for clients. Social media handles: @ashleighfynn

Jerusha Govender is a South African M&E, and data visualization specialist in public health and development management sectors. She has a Masters in Public Health from the University of Cape town, and Masters in Public & Development Management from the University of Witwatersrand. Jerusha is a young entrepreneur, who founded Data Innovator in 2015, a small business based in South Africa which aims to help organizations tell their story through creative use of data and M&E. She has shared here own story and emphasizes the role of the Digital Revolution in M&E in Entrepreneur, Destiny MAN, and Destiny Connect Magazines in SA, as well being interviewed on InspiredYouthSA on Jerusha the Deputy Chair of the South African M&E Association (SAMEA). She was previously employed by national and international NGOs, working across 11 developing countries and regional projects providing technical oversight in M&E systems, monitoring platform development, and evaluation. Follow her on Twitter at: @datainnovator @jnsoomar

Mbulelo Sochifa is the Lead Technology Partner for Absa, one of the leading banks in South Africa. She is also a co-founder of ICT on Heels, a networking and empowerment platform created for women in ICT. She is passionate about women empowerment initiatives in ICT. Her zeal for women empowerment has seen her being invited to chair the 2017 Women in ICT Leadership Summit where keynote speakers for the summit included CIO’s from different organizations sharing and teaching on how to overcome stereotypes and excel in the male-dominated ICT industry.  Mbulelo has completed a Computer Systems Engineering Diploma and has also been focusing on obtaining the latest industry specific framework certifications like ITIL Expert and COBIT Implementation in order to stay relevant and keep up with the rapidly evolving technology landscape.

Noluvuyo Mpekelana is an IT Support Manager for Glencore. She has fulfilled a number of various roles within ICT including support, business analysis and project management. She holds a Bcom honours degree specializing in Information Systems from the University of Cape Town, and is also currently busy with a Master of Commerce in Information Systems degree from the University of Cape Town. She also a certified Prince2 Practitioner, and holds various industry and management certificates. Her key areas of interest include IT governance and IT business alignment. Noluvuyo is also a founding member of Inside Out Mentors ( ) a non-profit organization that is focused on mentoring young disadvantaged girls. She spends most of her time offering support and mentoring young women. She continues to offer support to women in ICT through mentorship and that has led to her involvement with ICT on Heels ( She believes that women need to support and empower each other and through ICT on Heels she will be able to influence other women to stay and grow in ICT.

Samantha Manclark, Jozihub




Neema Iyer is the founder and director of Pollicy, a civic technology organization based in Kampala, Uganda. Pollicy uses data, design and technology to improve how citizens and government engage around public service delivery. She has a Masters in Public Health from Emory University and has worked on large-scale mobile and digital projects across Africa as part of TTC Mobile (previously Text to Change) and Viamo (previously VOTO Mobile). She currently leads the design of a number of projects focused on building data skills, on fostering conversations on data privacy and digital security, and on innovating around policy. Follow her on Twitter at: @pollicyorg @neemaiyer

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.23.52 AMLinda Raftree supports strategy, program design, research, and technology in international development initiatives. She co-founded MERLTech in 2014 and Kurante in 2013. Linda advises Girl Effect on digital safety, security and privacy and supports the organization with research and strategy. She is involved in developing responsible data policies for both Catholic Relief Services and USAID. Since 2011, she has been advising The Rockefeller Foundation’s Evaluation Office on the use of ICTs in monitoring and evaluation. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Linda worked for 16 years with Plan International. Linda runs Technology Salons in New York City and advocates for ethical approaches for using ICTs and digital data in the humanitarian and development space. She is the co-author of several publications on technology and development, including Emerging Opportunities: Monitoring and Evaluation in a Tech-Enabled World with Michael Bamberger. Linda blogs at Wait… What? and tweets as @meowtree. See Linda’s full bio here.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.28.16 AMWayan Vota is a co-founder of MERL Tech and Kurante. He is on the forefront of utilizing new and emerging technologies to magnify the intent of communities to accelerate their social and economic development. Wayan has worked at FHI360’s Tech Lab, Development Gateway, Inveneo, The World Bank and Mercy Corps where altogether he created holistic nationwide programmes in 11 countries. He has co-developed and organized multiple conferences to showcase technology’s promise, including Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, Fail Festival, and ICT4Drinks. Wayan publishes ICTworks, the premier online community of technology for development practitioners. Wayan co-taught the inaugural Masters-level class on Technology and Innovation for Development at Johns Hopkins University, using the Principles of Digital Development as a framework to showcase the opportunities and challenges of implementing technology-based international development interventions. See Wayan’s full bio here and follow him on Twitter at @wayan_vota.