Co-Conspirators: Georgina Goodwin, Photographer

Georgina Goodwin, Photographer via UBUNTU Blog
‘First World’ countries come in under the pretense that Africa needs saving, spiritually and economically, and they take away Africa’ s ability to work things out for themselves which is the only way for sustainability.

Georgina Goodwin is a freelance photographer born and raised in Kenya, and she's the eye behind the beautiful photos you've seen on our UBUNTU website, Instagram, and Facebook. We've loved working with her  unmatched talent and kind spirit to bring the UBUNTU story to life.

Georgina is a part of the Kenya we see: a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, artists, devoted friends, and people who believe that Africa is on the rise. We talked to her about her work in Africa and around the globe, and found out what event completely shifted her world as a photographer. 

How did you get your start in photography?

I was working as a stewardess on a super yacht in Cape Town in Feb 2003 when the Captain announced we were to set sail across the Indian Ocean to Malaysia. Knowing it would be the journey of a lifetime I went out and bought my first DSLR which happened to be a Canon EOS. I began taking photographs throughout the trip, they were all awful, but the need to start expressing myself and experiment through my camera began to emerge. When I left the yacht and returned to Kenya I worked as a camp manager in the Masai Mara. Buying my first digital camera, a Canon 10D, I began to photograph everything. I entered 2 images, a sunset cheetah and a very closeup of a lioness, into two Kenya Wildlife Photographer of the Year contests, one was judged by a master photographer from Magnum and National Geographic. I won both contests. This is April 2005. Realising I had some kind of talent I focused on photography and began taking pro-bono jobs, learning as I went. The jobs started coming in, the clients grew. My first big turning point was documenting Kenya’s post-election violence of 2007-8, within a week my style grew, my attitude matured, and my passion to tell true stories began. It’s now 10 years later and I’m proud to say that the hard work is at last paying off. I’ve been nominated for the prestigious international sustainability and photography Prix Pictet Award for my work documenting cancer in Africa, and won Kenyan News Photographer of the Year in 2013 for my coverage of the Westgate Attack. 

Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog
Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog
Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

What is the most unique shoot you've ever been on?

The most unique shoot I’ve been on – there have been a few that stand out. Meeting and photographing Mandela at the opening of a Mandela Trust hospital in Johannesburg in July 2011 was more than a dream come true. I cried with joy and was so overwhelmed by the experience. I have traveled to the most far-flung places of Kenya to photograph for the Fistula Foundation in western Kenya’s Pokotland, for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Dadaab Refugee Camps on the Kenya-Somali border, photographing Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007 and 2008 which completely shifted my entire concept and style photography, overwhelmingly so. 

Nelson Mandela by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Africa?

I think the biggest misconception about Africa is that her people cannot get by on their own and that Africa is backwards. “Oh Nairobi has skyscrapers?” ‘First World’ countries come in under the pretense that Africa needs saving, spiritually and economically, and they take away Africa’ ability to work things out for themselves which is the only way for sustainability. Teach someone how to fish rather than to give them fish. The involvement in aid in Africa has changed since this 1980's approach but aid agencies are now making a killing off the back of their projects in Africa, why would they stop?

How did you first get involved with UBUNTU? What's it like to work/shoot with our Kenya team?

I got involved with UBUNTU through Zane Wilemon, the founder. I met him through my sister and her husband and a mutual friend Chrissie Lam. Zane and Chrissie are incredibly passionate people who both love Africa, and they asked me to photograph the #loveisproject. From there they asked me to document UBUNTU. I have loved working with your UBUNTU Kenya team; they are exceptionally friendly and go out of their way to help you. UBUNTU Café and the whole UBUNTU brand is such a wonderful new and holistic experience, one that goes a long way to helping peoples’ everyday lives, and helping the planet. 

If you could give prospective entrepreneurs two pieces of advice, what would those be?

One would be to find something that you connect with - that speaks to you, that makes sense to you - and follow that with your heart. Living your passion will get your farther than trying to follow something that doesn’t speak to your heart. For one, you will wake up every day and it won’t be work - it will be soulfood.

Advice number two would be to make sure you make time in your life to actually enjoy it, to savor it and to treasure it. No matter what you do to get through your day, how hard you might have to work or choose to work, always make sure you have room to enjoy and give yourself a little something back. Life really is too short and we stuff it with all these pressures and stresses. What is the point unless we actually make time to enjoy being here! 

What did you eat for breakfast?

A banana-strawberry, pea protein, maca powder smoothie with chia seeds, made with my Nutribullet which I just totally adore! I have at least one healthy smoothie a day ;)

Favorite place you've traveled?

Mediterranean Europe in Summer -  to Italy – Venice, Florence and South of France, the vineyards, the cobbled roads, the rundown villas, the fountains, the dry stone walls lined with lavender. The winding farm lanes, the searing summer heat, the 10 litre beautiful fresh white wine, the fields of sunflowers, the church bell chiming, the fresh fruit banana ice cream, the deeply embedded detailed beauty of history everywhere you look. 

What do you never leave home without?

There are really only 2 things I don’t leave home without: my phone (iPhone6) and charger, and a bottle of water. Those are most important, I can get by all day with just those.

Cancer in Africa by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Margaret Ngendo, born in 1930 in rural Kiambu just outside Nairobi. Margaret is a role model in her community as grandmother to 15 children and an active community cancer support group member. For 15 year years she fought breast cancer it took that long to raise enough money to have the mastectomy. She is a true survivor. Cancer is on the rise in Africa, it is no longer a ‘western disease’.

Dawn Dreams by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Dust kicked up in Kamariny Stadium in Iten, Kenya's town of champions, marathon runners wake early each trains hard every day with their dreams of making it.

Long Shadows by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Aerial photo of sunrise and misty clouds over the tea farms of Tigoni just outside Nairobi in the highlands casting long shadows of gum trees lining farm tracks.

Maasai by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Masai women perform a wedding dance under the stormy African skies over the Amboseli plains in southern Kenya.

My Nairobi by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

From a photo series documenting Nairobi city as it continues to expand rapidly with buildings going up daily, here builders work on putting in glass panels high up on Kushee Towers in Upper Hill area.

Nairobi Rose Dawn by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Rose-tinted sunrise and mist starting off this dawn over downtown Nairobi and behind the view extends out into the city's ridges of residential areas.

South Rift Climate Change by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Kenya, like the rest of the world, is experiencing climate change and variability and the associated adverse impacts. This photo series looks at the Olkiramatian area, a group ranch area in southern Kenya’s Kajiado district at the south of the Rift Valley.

Westgate by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

The body of 38 year old Mitul Shah lies in the main hall of the Oshwal Community Centre in Westlands nearby to the Westgate Shopping Centre where the Director of BIDCO, a large East African domestic products company, who was also a British Citizen, was killed during the 4 day attack by Al-Shabaab militants. Hundreds of well-wishers come to pay their last respects sprinkling rose petals over his body. Mitul by all accounts was said to be an incredible young man, full of vitality, love and vision. "There are not enough adjectives to describe him" said one BIDCO employee.

Follow Georgina on Instagram and Twitter

UBUNTU Tribe - What's it all about?

See every stage of impact that happens with you join #UBUNTUtribe. Let us show you what a new way of giving looks like.

This is Josephine and she works for UBUNTU Made/LIFE Line, our lifestyle brand. Your Tribe membership allows her and all our mums to work on a steady salary, open a bank account, purchase land, and explore entrepreneurial opportunities.

All the beaded products, including the popular LOVE Bracelet, is handmade by Maasai women. Traditionally, these women only get paid if they sell a product. Because of Tribe, they get paid for every piece they sell. Every dollar that goes into UBUNTU Made multiplies and becomes re-invested.

UBUNTU Cafe serves up the tastiest menu in town. Tribe members helped us purchase land, break ground, build, outfit the cafe, and train staff.

The Cafe is a nutritional center for the town and also a haven for team members like Tabitha, who uncovered a passion for food and talent for management after being hired with the help of Tribe members.

The cafe sources fruit, vegetables, and eggs straight from the UBUNTU Farm on the same land.

UBUNTU Tribe members not only helped physically plant trees and a fruit orchard on the land, membership helps the Farm grow organic produce which is sold every weekend at the market in Nairobi, multiplying initial investment.

Stephen graduated from the UBUNTU School for kids with special needs and now works on the Farm, where we are able to provide jobs and training with the help of our Tribe.

UBUNTU Farm also provides revenue for Maasai goat and sheep farmers, who sell milk to us for cheese production in partnership with Brown's Cheese. This is a sustainable program, proving investment into impact.

Say hello to our UBUNTU Team! A special group of Tribe members, called UBUNTU Core, have committed this year to cover the salaries of our entire core team in Kenya!

Tribe membership reaches every corner of UBUNTU, providing jobs for an entire security team.

Jeremiah leads the team in Kenya!

Our Kenya office boasts a group of people just as passionate and hardworking as you. They are dedicated to UBUNTU and love connecting with our Tribe members.

Tribe members are invited to visit our team every year to see the impact with their own eyes!

When you become an UBUNTU Tribe member, your donation is invested into our social businesses, where it multiplies to support or non-profit programs, like UBUNTU Green.

This is an example of the town before UBUNTU Green, our waste management service.

This is after UBUNTU Green! Tribe helps fund this clean-up initiative, which not only educates the community on our environment, but keeps disease from spreading, as well.

UBUNTU Heal is a partnership with Dell Children's to offer safe and free clinics to the community. Throughout the year, we offer free HIV/AIDS screening and counseling.

Children all over the community now have access to healthcare through UBUNTU Heal.

The UBUNTU School is a partnership with Acacia Fund, providing education, therapy, and training for kids with special needs.

UBUNTU School also employs one physical therapist and teachers who love our kids!

You're invited to join this spectacular group of people! We have meet-ups in cities across the US...

...and in Kenya!

Every year, we take a Tribe team to Kenya.

We'd love to have you walk the land with us!

Start now. Membership begins at $25/month: it's time to join a new way of giving!

The 5th Annual Tribe Campaign is Here!

Just on the heels of our UBUNTU launch, we're thrilled to jump into our 5th year anniversary of Tribe!

What is UBUNTU Tribe?

UBUNTU Tribe is a new way of giving.

Our members are people who are committed to creating positive change. Tribe believes that impact begins with investing in people. 

When people ask, tell them why the UBUNTU model works. Your investment is a seed that grows with immediacy, creating opportunities and sustaining impact for the people you care about.

How do I join?

We're happy you asked. Become a member right here and we'll send you an exclusive slim LOVE Bracelet today!

I'm already a member - yay!

This year we want every Tribe member to recruit. Call your mom, Tweet your friends, tag your co-workers. Because you're committed to creating lasting change and when one person gives, we ALL thrive.

When you recruit one member, we'll send you an exclusive slim LOVE Bracelet that very day. We like ya.

How do I recruit?

Here's a simple Tribe Tool Kit to get you started!

1. Tweet about it!

  • It's time for a new way of giving. Join me and @ubuntubrand: http://bit.ly/ubuntutribe
  • I just joined #UBUNTUtribe because I'm for lasting change and a new way of giving. Become a member here: bit.ly/ubuntutribe
  • Want to give back but don't know where to start? Check out @ubuntubrand, where every gift grows: http://bit.ly/ubuntutribe #UBUNTUtribe

2. Grab a graphic below and post on Instagram or Facebook - tag @ubuntubrand!

3. Tell people why you love Tribe. It's as simple as that.

You're Invited: UBUNTU Launch Party

UBUNTU Launch Party Featuring Tameca Jones

We're known for our annual fall party in Austin, previously known as the LIFE Event, and this year we've got more music, more drinks, more food, and, for the first time ever, costumes!

Join us October 30th downtown at The Belmont to celebrate the launch of UBUNTU. Don your best Halloween costumes and dance the  night away with live music from Tameca Jones, Young Paris, Emmanuel Jal, DJ Kay Cali.

Tickets are available now - let's kick off UBUNTU with a (spooky) bang!

Featuring:

Deep Eddy Vodka Cocktails
Dawa Cocktail Servers (traditional Kenyan drink) & Martini Luge
Flash Tattoos, Hand Rolled Cigars, Photo Booth, Silent Auction & the UBUNTU Made Market.

See you there!

Tameca Jones UBUNTU Launch Party
UBUNTU Launch Party
Dawas at UBUNTU Launch Party
UBUNTU Launch Party

Co-Conspirators: Sophie Eckrich of Teysha

A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog

We met up Sophie, the hippy chic co-founder of Tesyha, at the flagship store in Austin. Nestled near a vegetarian brunch spot, juice stand, and tattoo parlor, Teysha is an apologetically vibrant home to the beautiful boots and shoes handmade by men and women in Guatemala. As a co-conspirator in creating some real social change, Sophie took some time to chat with us about the world of social entrepreneurship. 

What is social entrepreneurship to you and how does Teysha fit in?

Social entrepreneurship, to me, means seeing a challenge or problem facing the world and finding a way to help solve that problem in a meaningful way by creating value for all groups involved. For us, we wanted to help find a way to create opportunities for artisans to share their talents, raise their income, have better opportunities for their children's education, and then preserve the incredible artistic heritage in their cultures --- rather than ask people to donate to this cause, we wanted to create something that stood alone on its own merit of quality, design, and uniqueness, and also happens to have a deep social mission as well. We don't want to depend on people's charity and instead, offer them something of value while creating value for our artisan partners. 

What are some companies or brands do you think are doing it well? 

UBUNTU of course! I am a huge fan of everything y'all do and look up to you in so many ways. Beyond UBUNTU, I love the models in the sustainable fashion space of Reformation, Manos Zapotecas, Seamly.co, and more! 

Social stars: tell us a success story from someone you work with on the ground.

Victor was one of the first people we met in the town where we are now based in Guatemala. At first he was quiet, focused, hanging in the back and cutting leather which had been his job. He quickly became our number one all star on our team in Guatemala, realizing that he was incredibly smart, animated, passionate and dedicated, he had just never had the opportunity to express that before. He just graduated with his degree in accounting and has become the manager of our workshop. He is young, bright, and really to me says so much about the future of Guatemala if more people like him can find those opportunities to challenge themselves and work in a place that supports their growth and passions. 

What has been Teysha's biggest challenge on the way to sustainability?

I think it's always a challenge when you are trying to do things in a way that respects all your stakeholders- balancing fair wages, costs for quality materials, accessibility to a wide audience, and fitting into the retail world, can definitely be a challenge but can be done! 

If you could give prospective entrepreneurs two pieces of advice, what would those be?

Just do it! If you are thinking or dreaming of starting something, go for it. You have so much more to gain than you have to lose, and if anything, you will learn more than you ever thought while trying to build something amazing. My second piece would be to play to your strengths and what you really want your life to look like, while building your business -- remember you can't be the best at everything, so learn what you are best at and most passionate about, and do that! Another would be, for anyone thinking about a product based company, that design and quality is key -- make sure your product can stand on its own, and know that the story is essential but not the only thing that is important. 

Now for the fun ones. What did you eat for breakfast?

Tacos all day every day! (Literally breakfast, lunch, and probably dinner today.) 

Favorite place you've traveled? 

Can't pick favorites, but most recently Oaxaca, Mexico! I was in love with the culture, food, colors, art, mescal, and the city just had such an entrepreneurial and action oriented feel. Another semi-recent favorite was the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua. I will forever love Bali for the sense of spirituality and nature ingrained in everything. 

What do you never leave home without?

Chap-stick, laptop, notebook, and tennis shoes for my evening run! 

A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog
A Conversation with Sophie at Teysha via UBUNTU Blog

For more about Teysha visit teysha.is