First, a little introduction…
Caroline and Kimberly are both LUC students that are almost at the end of their LUC careers. In their first year, they were inspired to see something of the world and decided to go to Kenya to do voluntary work. Their passion to truly bring about positive change for the youngsters they had met there brought them to return the next year and finance a business fundraiser. They organized fundraising dinners in a Kenyan restaurant in the Hague, they set up a campaign and successfully raised the money necessary.
Social Entrepreneurship Minor in Delft
But the change did not end there for the ladies. With the idea of Kenya in the back of their heads, they started the combined social entrepreneurship minor with LUC and TU Delft. Returning the second time from Kenya, they noticed that the wooden belts they brought back often received very good feedback. Together with their project partner Zoë Cremers they turned their idea of setting up a company in these sustainable wooden belts, to sell them both Kenya as in Netherlands from a dream into reality.
Figuur 1 The three ladies together
Overcoming setbacks and making it work
This is where there journey would truly begin. Only equipped with a logo for their company, they returned to Kenya and started to recruit people in an economically fragile area with a high youth unemployment rate. Well-aware of the cultural structures in the area, they skillfully recruited youngsters on the basis of the community deciding who could interview for the job. After having set up the basis framework of their company, they started a Kickstarter project to raise the funds, where they promised to trade their beautiful wooden belts for investment in their company. Although the road to getting these funds was rocky and often led to broken nights, the ladies managed to get their funds and go for it.
Corruption and bureaucracy: theory put in practice
Another major reality check they encountered in the process was when they saw the theories put forward in their classes in practice. The time and money it took them to officially register their company in Kenya in comparison with that process in the Netherlands made them realize it would not be easy.
HABA HABA: the company
Nevertheless, the ladies have stayed true to their employees and to their company and they are still fully engaged right now. During their studies they have kept up with the positive developments of their enterprise in Kenya and have promoted their belts in their company based in the Netherlands, too. After Kimberly graduates this summer, she will return to Kenya to further the company there and Caro will manage the company in the Netherlands. Although they are still in the exciting, often sleep-wrenching beginning phase of their company, they have come a long way to ensure that their company is sustainable, fair trade and good for all the parties involved. With certified wood (not easy to find in Africa, so they told me), honest wages and the creation of opportunities for youngsters in Kenya, the company has blossomed into a beautifully fair trade company with stylish belts.
Figuur 2: The New Jackets
How their journey as an enterprise will continue? Apart from the wooden belts, we were informed that soon their African jackets will be brought into the market. They are setting up their webshop where you can buy their products online & they are meeting up with other sales points to broaden their sales. Moreover, they want to keep growing as a company in order to procure more jobs for the Kenyan community. We are sure that with their positive mindset, they will come a long way in doing this.
Want to learn more about Caro, Kimberly and Haba Haba? Click here to visit their Facebook website & support their beautiful cause.