Since co-founding Ajiri Tea Company, Kate Holby has loved celebrating each milestone with her organization. The latest achievement—the improved math scores of Felix, one of the students whose education is being funded through Ajiri’s profits. And the newly launched product—developed with pro bono support from Taproot Plus—that impacts each community they serve.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Together with my sister and mother, we started Ajiri Tea Company with the goal of creating employment opportunities for Kenyan women through a socially conscious and sustainable business model. Nothing inspires me more than when the women we employ see themselves as leaders within their community. 100% of our net profits are reinvested into education for Kenyan orphans; at the moment, we’re proud to be sponsoring 29 students through our sales.
I knew Ajiri had made it when we employed our first Kenyan women and sent our first child to school. We continue to celebrate each time U.S. consumers connect with Kenyan communities through the sale of our products. People want to help and want to make a change in the world. The second we provided them with a small outlet to do just that—we haven’t stopped selling.
As Ajiri grew, we drew up plans to redesign our website, develop a new product, and revamp the marketing for our existing products. Since we didn’t have the resources or expertise to do all of that on our own, Ajiri looked to Taproot to connect us with pro bono volunteers. Through work with our skilled volunteers we were able to successfully develop a new product—a gift box! We are so excited for the gift box to hit shelves within the month; with the increase in revenue, we hope to develop more programs for our students in Kenya. Our goal in the coming year is for every child to learn basic computer skills.
A tip for other nonprofit leaders considering utilizing pro bono: start small. You don’t need a huge project to start. In fact, it was the smallest projects that taught us how to use Taproot and connect with skilled volunteers. These small projects prepared us to enter into larger and more complicated pro bono projects. Ajiri needed expertise to grow and Taproot connected us to people with that expertise. Through Taproot we have found enthusiastic, engaging, and talented volunteers who have worked—and are still working—to grow our organization.
A Sense of Community
It would be too easy to go on and on about how much we connected with our pro bono volunteers. It is long after our projects have ended and we actually are still in touch with each of our volunteers because of the personal connections we forged. However, most of all, the impact of their work is felt in Kenya. Through their efforts Ajiri is now able to sell more tea, employ more women, and send more kids to school. I want to thank all the talented individuals who generously donate their skills—your time and efforts go far beyond the computer screen and store shelves.
In Taproot we found a similar community as we found in Kenya. This is a community where people are willing to help other people. This is a community where people make time, and are gracious with their knowledge. This is a community that is incredibly valuable and, hopefully, will just continue to grow.