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:
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.