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Making A Difference

OUR MISSION

Image of the founders

HISTORY

It all started when our Co-Founder & CEO, Zane Wilemon, purchased a one-way ticket to Kenya in search of meaning. It was there that he met our other Co-Founder, Jeremiah Kuria. The two forged a powerful friendship based on faith, development, and purpose. These conversations led to standing lunches every Thursday, where they brainstormed ways to serve the local community, especially those living on society's margins. Driven by their shared vision, they created a Center for children with special needs, providing them with medical care and life-changing therapy. Before the Center, caregiving was a full-time job for the mothers of children with special needs. With more time, nine of these Mums started a new conversation with Jeremiah and Zane: "Now that our kids are being cared for five days a week, can you help us do something productive with our time?" What started twenty years ago as nine women learning to sew on manual sewing machines has now transformed into a thriving social enterprise employing over 150 full-time Makers that are changing their lives and the world.

UBUNTU

[OO-BUHN-TOO] NOUN

Ubuntu is an African philosophy that means "I am because we are."

It denotes our interconnectedness; we depend on each other in ways, big and small. To reach our full potential, both individually and as a society, we must help others achieve theirs.

I am because we are.

WHAT WE DO

At Ubuntu Life, we make high-quality, handmade products that provide sustainable and meaningful employment for our community.

OUR FIRST PRODUCTS

Our first products were simple and easy to master: shopping bags, coffee sleeves, bandanas, and coasters that our original nine Maker Mums crafted in a 15x15 foot rented room filled with manual Singer sewing machines. Soon, we purchased 11 acres of land on the outskirts of Maai Mahiu, Kenya, and rehabilitated it with native trees, plants, and landscaping. It was here where we built our Maker Studio.

WORKING WITH MAASAI CRAFTSWOMEN

Soon, we began working with a group of Maasai craftswomen in Kenya's Ngong Hills to create a line of beaded bracelets. Today, our LOVE bracelets are world-renowned, and we work with a network of close to 800+ Masaai Women.

THE AFRIDRILLE, AFRICA'S ESPADRILLE

In 2018, we launched the first fully-customizable espadrille shoe, designed in Austin and handmade in Kenya. Two years later, we launched the Lamu Mule, a suede slip-on that was selected as one of Oprah's Favorite Things for Holiday 2020.

HANDMADE WITH LOVE FROM KENYA

Today, our range of handmade products includes signature beaded bracelets and dog collars, handcrafted bags, handmade shoes, and a luxe collection of 18K gold-plated jewelry, all made with love in Kenya for the world.

Maker mums creating handmade products

HOW WE DO IT

We source materials locally and make our handcrafted products in our own studio in Maai Mahiu, allowing us to control and optimize every element of the production process. This allows us to pass our cost-savings and profits on to our empowered Makers, investing in their well-being and that of the local community.

Impact kids

WHY WE DO IT

Every purchase empowers. We pride ourselves on creating quality handmade products for our customers while providing our Makers with sustainable employment, health insurance, and a living wage well above the standard income for the Maai Mahiu area.

150+Jobs

Both full-time and part-time jobs created through our enterprises on the Ubuntu Life Campus in Maai Mahiu.

800+Maasai Makers

We provide contract beadwork to hundreds of our Maasai Maker Mums in Kenya's Ngong Hills.

350+Kids

Our sister foundation and primary impact partner, the Ubuntu Life Foundation, provides life-changing individualized education and therapy to 350+ children living with special needs.

WHO WE ARE

A global lifestyle brand out of Africa, based in Kenya. We're empowering lives through each product made and connecting people around the world.

Sown bag

ROOTED IN MAAI MAHIU

We've sewn a 36° stitch and included a 36° beaded tab on our products to honor our commitment to this special place and its beautiful people. Located at 1° South, 36° East, the bustling transit hub of Maai Mahiu is the gateway to Kenya's famed Great Rift Valley, and the town we are honored to call our home.

Girl with kid

THE UBUNTU LIFE FOUNDATION

With every product made, we're transforming lives. We do this by providing empowered employment to the local Maai Mahiu community, as well as through our sister foundation and primary impact partner the Ubuntu Life Foundation. The UL Foundation provides educational and medical care to children with special needs in the region.

The founders with another

FROM KENYA TO THE WORLD

We are proud pan-Africanists, committed to our great continent, its rich cultures and inspiring diverse communities. As we grow as a company we will continue to not only produce beautiful handmade products, but also explore compelling stories of our surroundings and our neighbors. The narrative that we seek to tell is that of Africa thriving. Please come visit us at our Ubuntu Life Campus in Maai Mahiu!

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