Ubuntu Life grew out of a friendship between Jeremiah Kuria and Zane Wilemon, pastors from Kenya and Texas. Meeting weekly over lunch in Maai Mahiu, a transit hub an hour outside Nairobi, they talked about faith, growth, and empowerment. Together they created a center for children with disabilities, providing life-changing therapy and medical care for kids who suffer from physical challenges and social stigma.
Caring for these children had been a full-time job for their mothers. Soon their Mums started a new conversation with Jeremiah and Zane: “Now that our kids are out of the house, can you help us do something productive with our time?”
We started in 2011 with nine Maker Mums and a 15 foot by 15 foot rented room filled with manuel Singer sewing machines. Our first products were simple and easy to master: shopping bags, coffee sleeves, bandanas, and coasters. Soon we purchased 11 acres of land on the outskirts of Maai Mahiu, rehabilitated it with native trees, plants and landscaping, and built our Maker Mum Sewing Studio.
In 2012 we began working with a group of Maasai craftswomen in the Ngong Hills. These women, our Maasai Maker Mums, create beautiful beadwork in their spare time under an acacia tree, chatting with their neighbors. We provide them with access to income in a way that is supportive of their culture and lifestyle.
We launched our Cafe with the support of Whole Foods Market in 2013, and added our water bottling plant in 2015. Both those enterprises became sustainably cash-flow positive in mid 2018.
Today our Maker Mums are producing more sophisticated products that allow us to earn more revenue and pay higher wages. Our first shoe, the Afridrille – made in collaboration with Zazzle Heart – launched in May of 2018 on Kickstarter.
100% of Ubuntu Life profits support social impact programs in Kenya that are empowering the communities we work in through job creation. Beyond simply meeting needs, The Ubuntu Foundation is creating a shift in values and changing the conversation surrounding disability and education stigmas in the region.