kibera

Exceptional Lives - Pilgrimages about People

I've often said that one of the greatest joys of my work is the exceptional people that I get to meet and to develop friendships with. Whether or not it's Salim Mohamed and Sammy Gitau in Kenya, Murali Ramisetti in India, or Theresa Williamson in Brazil, I have been blessed to know so many people who are busy painting their visions of a better world into reality. So I've often wondered, "What it would be like to just go on a pilgrimage to find and learn from such people?"

Kibera Nights

Patrick in KiberaBy Patrick Donohue, August 2005

"In Nairobi, stay away from the shanty towns, especially at night."

The door closes, Kibera opens, and East Africa's largest shantytown swallows us into the night. It's dark near Edwin's place, a sight sapping blackness that is darker with the knowledge of the trenches and trips that lie ahead, a misstep can send you rolling down make shift steps to soak in the flowing runoff, Kibera's sewage system. Edwin can see well enough in the dark and navigates the pitfalls without hesitation; I make a joke about mzungu eyes and then switch on my torch. I notice as we walk that the only other people using torches are the mzee, the old men or women. We walk through small alleys and walkways, passing row after row of mud houses with radios blaring, stray light seeping through cracks around the doors and below the roofs. I can't shake the feeling that I'm walking across somebody's front porch but I soon realize that's exactly what we're doing.

Global Heroes - Carolina for Kibera

Another story about one of the BoP Protocol Pilot's most important partners: Carolina for Kibera (CFK) last week was honored as one of Time Magazine's "Heroes of Global Health" and Acting President Kim Chapman was featured at the Global Health Conference in New York.

CFK is an incredible community-based organization in Kibera: one of the world's largest slums on the outskirts of Nairobi Kenya. The organization's programs target issues of ethnic violence, health care, safe spaces for girls, and environmental sanitation and income generation. All their work follows a common theme of participatory development and the organization's operations in Kenya are run by Kiberans.

Side Effects - A Day in the Community

"I'd love to hear your impressions," Theresa said to me as we boarded the bus outside of Rocinha, "about what you think of the communities here vs. where you lived in Kenya." Here was Rio de Janiero, Brazil and in Kenya was Kibera, a million-person shantytown in Nairobi, where I had just spent the previous three months living and working. Theresa and I were catching a bus to the outskirts of Rio for a visit with local community leaders and to spend a "Day in the Community", a regular event that brings together children and neighbors from six of Rio's favelas, Brazil's illegal communities. Theresa and I found a seat as the bus lurched forward and I sat there wondering about her request. What preconceptions had living in an African slum given me about a South American one?

Base of the Samosa - What's in a name?

There's nothing like a room full of blank stares to tell you that you have just used the wrong word, nobody there knows what you're talking about and you need to adapt, but what do you do when that word is at the heart of what you do? When that glazed-eye-inducing offender is printed all over your business cards?

Erik, Kabi, Edwin and I are in a meeting hall in Kibera, a shanty town in Nairobi, Kenya which, with an estimated one million people, is one of Africa's, if not the world's, largest slums. We're running the second of four community engagement workshops in which we are preparing local community groups, entrepreneurs and social enterprises, on how to best approach and prepare for a partnership with multinational companies; in this case, how to partner with our main corporate sponsor, SC Johnson. This is what we do, we bring people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse resources together, "a creative collision of world views", to create new market opportunities for multinationals and locally grown businesses for poor communities via a process of "mutual value creation". Buzz phrase laden work, yes, but it's actually all been going quite well so far, except that now our community partners are stuck on our name. Behind us, on a brown flip chart taped to the wall, is drawn a large three sided figure, a triangle really, with the words "Base of the Pyramid" written on top, or BoP for short. That's us.

BoP Protocol Pilot in Kenya - Photos


Well,

we've been on the ground in Kenya for over a month now, field testing the Base of the Pyramid Protocol, a process to engage local communities in creating new business opportunities. More about the Protocol and the Pilot respectively can be seen at

http://www.bop-protocol.org/
http://www.BRINQ.com/kenya/

Textures of Kenya - Mitumba

There's a texture to life that we miss in our discussions of poverty, our arm chair strategies in the U.S. on microfinance, disruptive innovation, and entrepreneurship. The BoP Protocol Pilot team has been been in Kenya for almost a month now, visiting a number of homes and organizations throughout western Kenya, from rural farms to urban slums.

Kenya and local heroes (CFK)

Well,

it's been a busy three weeks in Kenya, with the Base of the Pyramid Protocol Pilot team bouncing around western Kenya. If anyone doubted poorer communities had local geniuses or heroes, you should come spend some time in the parts of Kenya few outsiders ever see… we can't seem to turn a corner without bumping into amazing people. So much is being done locally, yet so many challenges still exist.

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