It's time for another in our series of posts introducing you to the people behind ProZ.com...
It was clear from the start that he was going places, because Kevin Kiprotich (the “ch” is pronounced hard, as in “church”) was already a star student at primary school – in this case a private school run by the Adventists in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The local language was Nandi – one of 68 spoken in the country. and a member of the Nilotic family, whose range extends from parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, through Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
Kevin was always at or near the top of the class, but secondary school proved more of a challenge, and for a while he had to work hard to keep up with the pace and pass his exams. Nevertheless, his potential was soon spotted by an inspiring chemistry teacher, and Kevin’s love of the science, along with biology and maths, carried him successfully through school.
He was 16 when he saw his first smartphone. Now, while we were all more or less entranced by our first glimpse of the things, few of us, I imagine, immediately set to wondering how we could create an app. But then few of us are natural-born programmers. Up till that moment, Kevin had enjoyed little interaction with computers, apart from the odd game or video, but he was intrigued, and was soon researching cyberlanguages at the local internet café, finding out all about Java, C++ and the like.
However, while new to software, Kevin was already familiar with the mechanics of daily objects. Well, up to a point – he’d dismantled the family TV, for example, only to discover he wasn’t too sure how to put it all together again. His father was not pleased. But the ground was laid for the future. During an alumni day at his school, his interest in computing was further sparked by a visiting software engineer. Kevin later reached out to him, asking about what the work was like, but the answer was vague – along the lines of “I solve computer problems”. Intriguing enough nonetheless to set off a spiral of curiosity. Kevin teamed up with another classmate who had already ventured further down the rabbit hole and spent day after day at the cybercafé at the school – the only option for someone who had no laptop at home.
When the time came to leave school, the path ahead seemed clear. Despite his father’s wish for him to study analytical chemistry, Kevin set his heart on software engineering, and attended Murang’a University, where he befriended Benedict Ouma, the subject of the previous ProZ.com profile.
Still operating without a laptop, Kevin learned his craft on the library computer, poring over booklets and copying bits of code to work out his first programmes. On leaving college in 2019, he was able to benefit from Benedict’s embryonic network, and gain access to his first freelance projects, including a clean water supply business. In those early years he also worked on and off for SAAS companies in the USA, helping out with technical support, as well as a number of microfinance projects.
But then in 2022, Kevin seized the opportunity to join ProZ.com, after a tip-off from Benedict, and has been part of the team since November. His role revolves primarily around fixing issues and adding features to the all-important ProZ*Pay project and he is full of enthusiasm. After his local experience in more hierarchical, traditional companies, he relishes the flexibility, the horizontal nature of the ProZ.com structure, and the accessibility of colleagues, no matter how “senior”. Working when you’re relaxed, he says, is a great deal better than toiling away in a micro-managed atmosphere of stress and even fear.
For our part, it’s great to have Kevin on board, and to welcome him to a team that stretches from Ukraine to Argentina, from Spain to Colombia and from the USA to East Africa. ProZ.com can certainly lay claim to being a global family.