ACHOLA ROSARIO ASKS IF THERE CAN THERE BE ETHICS IN BUSINESS AND CONCLUDES ‘APPARENTLY YES‘
By Achola Rosario, Contributing Editor at www.ATCNews.org
(Posted 23rd October 2021)
In biology, a symbiotic relationship is one where two different plants feed off each other without killing each other. In fact, they go so far as to benefit from one another, giving the other the missing piece that the other needed to survive, co-existing from their differences. I used to get regularly thrown out of class in Business School for having the audacity to suggest that Capitalism is nothing but a refined method of stealing “ethically”, but the KOFISI business model has restored my faith in a business’ ability to benefit the surrounding community.
This week, we went back to KOFISI to visit their Karen hub, another beautiful little gem of a business flexi-share space, and was pleasantly surprised by the cool informality of the space. Trendy young Black men and women were bent over the mango-wood desks with their laptops and headphones, analyzing systems and doing online trainings in subjects I have never even heard of, and I pride myself in being a “know-it-all”. Beautiful wall paper popped with stimulating artwork, and black hexagonal floor to wall tiles in the photocopy corner in one room gave a spider-man marvel feel to the working environment. Another room with booths separated by thick sailor’s rope was inspired in my books, but it was The Knowledge Room that literally took my breath away.
All gun-metal grey with turquoise, teal, cream and bright orange birds-of-paradise plant highlights, this room is EXACTLY what I had in my head for a personal study or even living room in my soon the be built (Ha!) home. The wallpaper was very Java yet African in its banana plant geometric repetition and was enhanced by genuine antique African face-masks that peeked out at you as you passed the circular mirror reflecting your face and the rest of the room. Classic ‘70s padded armchairs were given a facelift with black and white kente-cloth backing and dark grey velvet upholstery, and a huge mango-wood boardroom table greeted you as you entered, suitably appareled with designer water-bottles for your conferencing think-tank needs. The 43-inch smart TV attached to the wall facing the conference table ensures that you are wirelessly present at any meeting anywhere in the world, and the phone butler service with personalized QR code ensure that you are assisted whenever needed. And there were books everywhere. Heaven.
But it is its assistance to its less fortunate business neighbors in Kibera former slums where the KOFISI model excels. By purchasing and furnishing their centers’ artwork from UWEZA Art Gallery in Kibera, they not only provide these young artists with a market for their work, they ensure that they are able to maintain a constant supply of art materials for themselves and others using 40% of art sales proceeds. But more importantly, the artists directly and individually benefit from the proceeds of the sale of their artwork. I personally love this because all too many times, the proceeds of charitable work/donations rarely reach the intended, or if they do, it is a tiny figure of what was initially given. But here each artist gets 60% of the sale of their work and are free to do with it what they wish.
Most use it to put themselves through school and university, highlighting the fact that ghetto children are actually the most hardworking demographic, unwilling to put up with stereotypes of failure, abuse and disease. I went to meet these “kids”, and I call them that purely because I am officially no longer a youth, although I am sure they are seething with resentment at my use of the term.
Proud and articulate, Jeff Okoth UWEZA foundation Country Director, Frank the programs director and regular selling artist, as well as the rest of the crew welcomed me into their second “home”, which for many of them is a space away from home where they feel safest to express themselves and articulate their vision. Not many get the chance to do so, considering that life is one big hustle for survival and the concrete jungle is not so friendly. But here they can grow their mental grass and spread their creative tentacles outside the barriers of the renovated ghetto and into the mainstream vision of global businessmen and women, who equally get inspired as they work in the cluster connected communities that are KOFISI AFRICA hubs.
And then we all went to eat the best Ugali and fish I have had in a long time at Capital Inn Kibera, whose owner, an astute businessman himself, offered all 7 of us good clean tasty African food and a large cold soda each after a long day’s work for a total of only $15. Sorted.
To book a space at KOFISI Karen:
Peter Mbugu- Client Relations manager- +245 736 460 972
To find out more about the UWEZA foundation:
To connect with UWEZA art gallery and purchase art:
Jeff Okoth- Country Director- +254 720 384 393
To watch The FOMO TRAVEL SHOW ep77 KOFISI Karen Kibera Connex:
In good business, all can profit.
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