Innovative startup helps market women place vegetable orders wholesale by SMS
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – “Having an idea is one thing. But having an idea that solves a problem is another thing. You have to also study whether your idea is the best solution to that problem. If it’s not, change it,” says 21 year old Suraj Gudka who just graduated from London School of Economics with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Accounting and Finance.
Gudka, who grew up in Kericho, is not looking for formal employment. SokoText, his new start-up, is his focus. The company is about on an online application which intends to leverage on the power of Short Message Service (SMS) in Kenya and help entrepreneurs in the slums.
“At the time I graduated, I already had a job offer at one of the top accounting firm there (UK). I would perhaps be earning close to 25,000 pounds (Sh3.6 million) a year. But when I thought of this idea, I asked the company to defer my job for one year. As soon I came back to Kenya and we started working on the pilot, I knew this is what I wanted to do for the foreseeable future. So I called those guys and told them that I was not going back for the job anymore,” he says during an interview.
“SokoText is a social enterprise based in Mathare slums, Nairobi and we work with ‘mama mbogas’ who are based in the slums. We help them to order their daily stock of fresh produce using an SMS based system which aggregates all their orders and turns them into one big order. We then source the goods in bulk prices and sell them from a central place in the area. All these, at a small fee. This means that they don’t have to go to the market everyday hence saving a lot of time, money and energy. They take their order at a lower cost because we get the goods in wholesale,” Gudka says.
So far he has been able to work with 27 women from Mathare slum on a pilot basis since August last year.
“It took some time for them to accept the idea because initially they did not trust us and this is common. But by just showing them our value proposition, they slowly started coming in. After two or three women came, others started saying they would also want to join,” he says smiling.
Gudka is currently constructing a small shop in Mathare where the ‘mama mbogas’ will be picking their orders. “We also want to increase our image in the slums and attract more customers.”
"Very recently I had a conversation with Cornel West in my house. I shared with him that people kept asking me when Obama first ran did I think it would make a difference in lives of Black males. I said yes, symbolically. On issues of illiteracy, poverty, the sense of meaning of Black males, no. I saw Obama having great ties to the wealthy and the sustaining of the wealthy.
Journalists my age and younger (I’ve been in the business since 2005—right around the time digital media emerged as a plausible career option) have never operated under the illusion that a staff job at The New Yorker or a New York Times column was in our future. But nearly a decade into the digital-media revolution, another shift has occurred. It’s not just that journalists understand former “prestige” jobs will be nearly impossible to get. Now we don’t even want them.
By #Realtalk: The new dream job - Columbia Journalism Review (via annfriedman)
How does food justice intersect with fat-positive politics? LGBTQ politics?
There is so much intersection here. We can simply look at the numbers and see that folks in poverty and are classified as food-insecure often have greater percentages of fat folks in their numbers. NIH got 1.5 million dollars last year to study why 75% of lesbians are fat. Often we get a lot of crossover between folks belonging to the LGBTQ communities and low-income folks. I’ve been doing food work with street-based queer youth for almost five years now. But beyond just the numbers we share this similar struggle, this fight for what’s just. We are all part of groups that are marginalized by society and many of us are doing work in many of these spaces.
Fresh is so amazing! They were my “senior buddy” for NOLOSE this past year and are just awesome people :)