Doing Good with Goodio

Ubuntu is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Goodio, a Finnish raw, vegan, hand-crafted chocolate company whose mission is to accelerate the positive change with the world’s best chocolate. 

Introducing Cafe Ubuntu chocolate, a delicious new feel-good treat which harmoniously combines Ubuntu’s East African coffee and Ugandan cacao. For each chocolate bar sold 0,5 $/£/€ will be donated to our pediatric health & education programs supporting children with special needs as well as empowering and educating women in Maai Mahiu.

“We are extremely thrilled about our partnership with Ubuntu. It’s always fun and rewarding to work with like-minded people who are interested in doing good. I feel that this is also a great opportunity for the consumers to make a positive impact with a simple action of buying delicious chocolate”, says Jukka Peltola, founder of Goodio.

Creative collaborations like this with Goodio are at the core of what it means to live Ubuntu - two companies coming together to amplify good. We are grateful to expand our Ubuntu family with Goodio and create impact together for our communities in Kenya. Cafe Ubuntu Goodio chocolate is available now in most Whole Foods Markets.

Ubuntu Q1 Foundation Impact Report

It's almost May and we are already looking back at an incredible first quarter for Ubuntu, with huge wins on the horizon.

UBUNTU SPECIAL NEEDS CENTRE

All students at the Ubuntu SNC receive individualized learning programs, physical therapy sessions, nutritious meals, and their families receive special needs training. In just the first quarter of 2018:

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  • 14 Students have learned to walk

  • 6 Students have learned to read

  • 10 Students have learned to talk or communicate effectively

In addition, thanks to local partners, we have secured mobility aids for over 20 of our children.

Due to the addition of new students at the Ubuntu Special Needs Centre in 2017 Q4 & 2018 Q1, we have added a new classroom which was painted and is currently in use by our Shooting Stars class.

Hamisi Erima Mohammed has also joined the Ubuntu team as Ubuntu’s new Occupational Therapist.

I believe in teamwork, personal growth, sharing life and journeying together with anyone I get attached to; I have found that in Ubuntu.
I am ready and committed to walk with the kids, their families and the Maai-Mahiu community to ensure that disability does not limit their quality of life
— Hamisi Erima Mohammed, Ubuntu’s new Occupational Therapist
 
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UBUNTU HEALTH EXPANSION

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BIG win!

Ubuntu has added an additional pediatrician to the Ubuntu Health team on the ground in Kenya. The addition of Dr. Barasa to the Ubuntu medical team allows us to provide more consistent medical care for the children with neurological disorders currently being seen quarterly by US-led medical teams.

There are only 400 pediatricians in the entirety of Kenya - compare that to over 90,000 in the United States.

This means we are providing more preventative and timely care for these children on an ongoing basis in a region where it is difficult to find care for children, particularly those with special needs.

Ubuntu Heal Team: February 2018

In February 2018, 3 medical team members from the Ubuntu Austin Heal team flew to Kenya and treated over 500 children in 5 days, including 270 recurring neurological pediatric patients.

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Additionally 150+ patients have been seen by the Kenya medical team for follow ups and continued care between clinics. Big love to Ken and Linda Shaffer, Jeff Kane, and Anne McDonald for their selfless support, knowledge, and love for our Ubuntu kids.

THE ROAD AHEAD

As Ubuntu Made charges ahead full steam with the current Kickstarter campaign, we are already looking a big gains from our Ubuntu enterprise arms, putting us on course to achieve fiscal sustainability in the next few years.

Big love, and asante sana!

 - Team Ubuntu

Empowerment. Ubuntu in Action.

When we first came to Maai Mahiu, we found a community of children with special needs and their mothers being mistreated and secluded. The stigma and lack of understanding surrounding special needs in Kenya means extremely limited access to essential services such as education, affordable healthcare, physical rehabilitation, and vocational training. This leads to limited opportunities for social inclusion, many social and economic issues for their families, and ultimately limits their ability to live the life of dignity that they deserve.

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Ubuntu first created the Ubuntu Special Needs Centre (SNC) to combat this stigma and injustice by providing therapy, education, and vocational training to youth with special needs in Maai Mahiu. Caring for these children had been a full-time job for their mothers, so soon after enrolling their children in the SNC their Mums started a new conversation with the founders: “Now that our kids are out of the house, can you help us do something productive with our time?”

 

The answer was a fashion line, initially imagined to create jobs for these Mums. Today, those same women have formed into a sisterhood revered in the community: women who provide for their families, purchase land, and venture into their own successful entrepreneurial efforts. Which is why it’s not simply about creating jobs.

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“Plenty of people have been given opportunity, but they don’t feel empowered,” explains Zane Wilemon. “There’s something magical about our culture and creating a job within that; it then empowers the whole community.”

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At Ubuntu, empowerment means more than providing handouts or even a sustainable job. It means offering people a chance to create their own lives and livelihood. Ubuntu Made pays above-market wages to all of our employees - up to 4 times as much as they would have been able to find elsewhere in the community. We also provide health insurance to all our employees and their families, a rarity in Kenya where less than 20% have access.

The job skills our Mums learn and the money they earn empower them to buy homes – more than half of Ubuntu employees are homeowners compared to 1% nationwide. They are able to provide for their families, and sometimes start their own enterprises. They earn more than money; they earn respect in their community. Together, by providing disabled children with the healthcare and education they need, we empower them to realize their fullest potential.

That’s empowerment. That’s Ubuntu in action.

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Thank You: A 15 Year Reflection from Zane

15 years!  I can't believe we've been doing this for 15 years!  2017 marked Ubuntu's 15th Anniversary and what a tremendous growth year it was.  When I look back on the past 15 years it's interesting to notice that each 5th year marks a turning point for the company:

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  • 2002 -> 2007: The years of discovering our "mile deep & inch wide approach" and establishing that we will be a company built on interconnected relationships starting with my friendship with Co-Founder, Jeremiah Kuria.

  • 2008 -> 2012:  When everything changed & we discovered the power of incorporating business into our non-profit model.  These are the years I refer to as, "I was out fishing for trout when we caught a whale" through our partnership with Whole Foods Market.  Seeing the power that is created for the women and men we serve in Kenya through a meaningful job became clear during these 5 years and we realized we must figure out how to continue developing this part of the company at a larger scale.

  • 2013 -> 2017: The years of restructuring and rebranding in order to establish ourselves as a brand not just for the next 15 years, but for the next 100 years. These past 5 years have been the most difficult. It's fun to grow, but at some point there's a need to slow down so that you can speed up.  Those have been the past five years, slowing down, really connecting and fine tuning the make up of our teams in the US and in Kenya, re-defining our company culture, mission and vision so that everyone is aligned to build a brand that is positioned to be the most iconic brand coming out of Africa.

 

A 15 year journey, each year unfolding new opportunities and challenges, all providing clarity over time on the type of company we are becoming one product, one community, one person at a time.  2017 in particular represents that last key restructure to both our staff and board of directors, adding key members to our team that are providing business knowledge and wisdom to help us maximize our potential to harness the power of capitalism and create more meaningful jobs and grow profits.  At the same time we made significant strides with our Ubuntu Kids program, hiring staff in Kenya and the US who bring tremendous skills to the table to grow our health and education programs as well as our funding base to support that programatic growth by launching our inner circle of funders known as Tribe 2020 (a 3 year higher tier commitment that will get us to sustainability by the year 2020).  Our advisory board met for the first time to support these efforts and continue the longstanding meaningful work led by both doctors and nurses here in Austin and in Kansas City, returning to Kenya for over 10 years now...amazing!  The last critical hire of 2017, which was something our health and education pioneers have been championing for years was the onboarding of Dr Gaitho, Maai Mahiu's first pediatrician EVER.

With all of this restructuring and progress these past 15 years, it is with tremendous excitement and anticipation that we enter a new year, full of potential.  Thanks to all of you who have walked this journey with us.  Here's to a new year and turning the page into another 15 years of healthy, strong growth one step at a time.

Big love,

Zane

Key Moments

As we look forward to some huge projects and announcements on the horizon, we wanted to share a few key moments from the past year. We have laughed, loved, and cried tears of happiness and sorrow over the past year. Our team has evolved both in Kenya and in Texas. Our mission has strengthened and been driven forward more than ever before. Thank you for everyone who has been there for the journey, and we cannot wait to share with you the adventure ahead.

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