We don’t have in the Netherlands such social enterprises. Do we have?
Social entrepreneurship with beads
In Nairobi, I visit the social firm Kazuri. Kazuri means small and beautiful. The company produces handmade ceramic beads, jewelry and pottery. The mission appeals to me: to ensure sustainable employment for disadvantaged people in Kenya.
It employs 340 people including 75% women, mostly single mothers. It employs staff who have little chance of a job with a regular Kenyan company. Foreman John Kimani leads me around. John started here six years ago. He was lucky, he says. Today there are hardly any vacancies. He followed a dual program learning / work, as everyone here. Are you illiterate? Then you go to class. Everyone is working 8 hours, 6 days a week. No night shifts. In the workplace, everyone gets paid the same regardless the position and seniority. The salary is 5 euros per day, which is more than the minimum wage Kenyan.
The beads department I come Sabeth and Angelina against. Two elderly disabled women. They work on the elongated worktable 30 meters long. Sabeth and Angelina are the first two workers of the late Lady Susan Wood, the initiator of Kazuri. Susan began in 1975 with a small workshop in the backyard, as the daughter of English missionaries. She wanted to do something for vulnerable women like Sabeth and Angelina. Meanwhile, her work place is a full-fledged business that the brothers Goes run as a social firm, a company with social objectives.
At the end of the tour of John, I talk with sales manager Raymond. A passionate man. The dream of Susan Wood he brings further he says with twinkling eyes. “As a value proposition to the market.” The growth strategy of the brothers Goes appeals to him. More than 200 new employees have been recruited since 2000. Focus: the talent of people. Kazuri is successful. The global fashion industry buys their products. The company exports to 20 countries and produces 5 million beads per year. Of these, 60% goes to the Netherlands (partly re-distributed to Belgium and Switzerland – source: Kazuri Holland). The social heart of Kazuri lively beats. Besides proper wages and working hours Kazuri provides access to the health system, there is a clinic and a nursery. 80 percent of the medical expenses of the staff is compensated by referral to the hospital.
I ask John what his best day was here. He says that this was the day that a customer decided to order additional services because he was impressed by its design. And his best experience? “The appreciation of colleagues and me to help them in finding a solution for creating a product. That gives me a sense of belonging. ”