Elizabeth witnessed many girls and young women in urban low income areas miss school and other important daily activities monthly because they could not afford sanitary towels. In response, she began experimenting with making reusable sanitary towels to address this issue. Her company Adhi, produces high quality reusable sanitary pads addressing this common problem.
Stephen has developed an affordable solar powered jiko (stove) that replaces the more commonly used charcoal powered jiko. Charcoal jikos are a hazard to the environment, as well as peoples’ health, from air pollution. Further to its affordability, Jiko solar can be purchased with small payments over a period of time, making it more accessible to people in the community.
Jane makes creative carpets and mats and teaches women in her community of Soweto to do the same. After noticing high levels of poverty and school drop-out rates due to lack of income, she started Mkeka shop. Mkeka shop provides women with tangible skills to make and sell their own designs. With the shop’s growing market, Jane employs her trainees, providing them with sustainable incomes.
Johnstone and Derick created a power back-up system to tackle the challenge of frequent power blackouts in Kibera and other low income areas, providing an affordable power alternative to low income earners. Power outages are especially detrimental to businesses in these areas that often have to shut down for hours or days at a time, one Ufanisi power backup can support operations at a restaurant for an entire day.
Papshop, Margaret Aoko
Margaret started Papshop after noticing a gap in access to and information about temporary retail spaces for artisans seeking to showcase and sell their products. At the same time malls, hotel residences and store fronts had available retail space. Papshop is an online platform that takes the hassle out of finding and renting retail space, connecting artisans to temporary spaces, whilst allowing those with space to advertise and monetize their space.
Socatoa, Derick Omira
Socatoa is a laundry service responding to the need for an affordable place for busy people in the community to drop off clothes and have them cleaned. Derick heard several stories of abuse against women who cleaned others’ homes in his community and as a result his business employs these women, providing them a safe space to continue their jobs whilst gaining a stable income.
Yo-Toto, Lillian and Collins
Lillian and Collins began making yoghurt for their children in 2014 due to the high prices of other commercial yoghurt brands available in stores. They founded Yo-Toto together, which sells organic yoghurt at affordable prices to families and schools in Nairobi. Yo-Toto Yoghurt is made without preservatives, using probiotic cultures and fruit-based natural flavours.
Veronica and Eric grew up in Kawangware where they witnessed the challenge of getting fresh, clean, affordable vegetables. To mitigate, they tested hydroponic methods to increase productivity of farmers. This method utilizes degraded lands and reduces water requirements for farming.
Hidaya Diapers, Hilda and Diana Ogutu
The mother-daughter team of Hilda and Diana make reusable diapers. They were inspired by seeing single mothers from Korogocho struggling to purchase sufficient diapers for their babies. Their diapers are 50 ksh. and last an entire month! This both cuts down on a huge cost for mothers and reduces environmental pollution.
Re-Afric Julius Otieno
Re-Afric is a recycling shoe company. They collect waste materials such as leather boards, fabric scraps, used tires, leather scraps, and old jeans to make quality, durable footwear. Julius trains young mothers and youth to produce these shoes, giving them a sustainable source of income.
Gurudumu, Simon Muia
Simon creates furniture from recycled tyres such as chairs, tables, and footrests. He was inspired after he witnessed the 2007/ 2008 election violence, where people burned tires in protest. He decided to employ idle youth to make art out of these tires instead of burning them.
Bernard discovered his passion for singing and creating music as a teenager in Kibera. He is starting Vessels Music School to teach voice, piano, guitar and other instruments, but also to use the "universal language of music" to bridge divides in his community, create employment, and empower youth to embrace their creativity.
Seth and Purity grew up watching their parents produce honey. They see honey as an important staple as it can be used to treat a variety of conditions, from dandruff and allergies to coughs and burns. Honey has not only been used as a sweetener for hundreds of years but also can control blood sugar levels and tastes great!
Magda bakes organic and healthy pastries including breads, cakes, cookies and scones. She makes her products with assorted fruits, nuts and sorghum and uses few preservatives. She felt the need to build a healthy society, mainly by reducing malnutrition in children living in Kibera slums. She also share her talent in baking through training to young mothers who have dropped out from school due to early pregnancies. She then hires these women onto her team, giving them an avenue of revenue generation to sustain their families.
Potter’s Briquettes, Abraham
Throughout his time in Kibera, Abraham has witnessed the deforestation and health problems caused by coal. Potter’s Briquettes are made of waste products and sugarcane remains. Not only do his briquettes cause less environmental harm than coal but they are also cheaper, longer lasting, and less damaging to users’ health.
Michelle and Thomas' Habari Kibra is a platform that allows youth to engage their passion for journalism. The training first teaches youths wide range of skills, from writing to photography to TV/media production, so that they will be able to reach their ambitions in an ever challenging and diversifying the industry. Once graduated these youth either will be set-up with income producing journalism jobs or join the Habari Kibra team to sell content to local media hubs in Nairobi.
Rose has witnessed dangers Kibera women experience when they journey to the marketplace early in the morning or late at night. Rose runs a farm where she grows fresh fruits and vegetables locally that are both affordable and accessible. Rose has now built a greenhouse and created sack gardens, allowing her to farm in any season. As well, Rose is creating a fish farm to help create organic fertilizer for her produces.
AfriKnit Dolls, Susan and Meshack
Susan, a trained tailor and fabric technician, and her partner, Meshack, created Afriknit Dolls to address the lack of African-inspired dolls available in Nairobi. By using fabric waste from local tailors, they are able to create a sustainable and affordable product. With the business they train and employ vulnerable youth in the production of their dolls.
Leo, seeing the need for affordable educational toys, created stuffed letters and animals to help children learn. The proceeds subsidize the rates of her daycare she is opening, allowing her to provide a reliable, affordable childcare service for working parents. As well, the daycare provides children with early childhood education lessons, taught with the assistance of her toys.
Joshua started his cafe and catering service to serve nutritious food and educate the population of Kibera on healthy eating. As well, the cafe provides a safe, clean place for holding meetings, bringing business into Kibera that would not otherwise not be there.
Allan, is the founder of Portable Voices podcasts, which produces interactive weekly podcasts focused on Nairobi's informal settlements, enabling community residents to express themselves creatively. They are now also piloting the production of African literature audio books.
Africa has a rich heritage of great stories archived in both written and spoken form. People have always made sense of the world and themselves through stories told around fires, cooking pots and under trees. Storytelling has been the way people communicate and share experiences, nature, moral behaviors, and record moments. However, following new technological advancements, the rise of the Internet, and daily busy routines, time to read is becoming more and more limited and dissemination of local African stories throughout the continent and beyond has proven difficult.
Rose, founder of BountyNut, was inspired to produce healthy peanut butter when her sister’s sick child was discharged from the hospital with the mandate that she get natural protein to supplement her diet. Her sister found that the only available peanut butter had additives and preservatives. Rose decided that others in her community must also be lacking access to an affordable, natural and healthy product, so she decided to begin producing it herself. BountyNut peanut butter is natural and has no chemicals, and it is produced from fresh dried groundnuts that are roasted and ground to a smooth or crunchy taste. The company creates job opportunities for widows and single women
When Josephine was unemployed, a friend taught her how to make candles. Eventually, she began to sell her candles to people in her community and became financially independent. She realized that by training other single or unemployed women to make and sell candles, she could help bring them out of poverty, inspiring the founding of Mwangaza candles.
Nurture Role Arts, Boniface
Boniface has created a set book curriculum to teach in secondary schools drama using plays and skits, creating a more interactive learning environment.
Unisykol Bags, Faith
Working at her neighborhood market in Githurai, Faith saw the potential to turn excess rice sacks into durable, cost effective shopping bags. The recent plastic bag ban in Nairobi, make Faith’s bags even more popular. She also recycled used jeans and other waste fabric and transforms them into beautiful bags which are also used by school going children in her community.
Stanley is working to teach youth in Kibera high-level computer programming languages in their own community. His graduates have had the opportunity to find freelancing jobs through platforms such as Elance, Upwork, and iWriter and be hired by large companies like Samasource.
Kiscom offers computer training to disadvantaged youth, subsidizing these services through the other ICT services offered. As well, Kiscom looks to promote education through providing library resources to kids who cannot afford school books, allowing children to rent at a low-cost after school.
Looks Like Avido, David
David was born and raised in the slums of Kibera and was inspired by the art he saw everyday in his community. David’s line of clothing is inspired by the streets of Kibera, and his desire to share his home fashions with people around the world.
Steven is working to provide a clean water delivery in Kibera, eliminating the burden of water collection and reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases. Along with the delivery of water his customers will receive public health and sanitation information through a mobile application.
Carol founded WeeCare to teach early childhood education and educate young mothers on the importance speaking and reading to their kids early. Carol works with multiple women’s groups to help them implement educational activities with their kids into their hectic schedules.