A lot of time has passed since I wrote here. As you may recall I started a reforestation and youth empowerment initiative in central Kenya together with my friend Daniel back in October. By now we are an international team of over 14 young people from Kenya, Germany and the US and call ourselves Kijani — meaning green in Swahili.
In the last 6 months we have spent a lot of work with planing the project, building partner networks, developing a funding strategy, and extending our team.
The Development so far
Kijani's vision is to contribute to a sustainable and just world. We are convinced that forest regions in Kenya are not just endangered ecosystems but also have tremendous potential for economic development. Therefore we aim to empower young people in the region to develop sustainable forest based businesses. Through our international and interdisciplinary team we have a unique opportunity to succeed and to create international Dialog between young people in Kenya, Germany and in the USA, like we already do on our team.
In the last months we have built a relationship with the people on location in Marmanet and prepared the set up of our first tree nursery. This week our Kenyan team is conducting interviews with 300 households in Marmanet for a baseline survey which will provide us with a better statistical basis to evaluate sustainable forest-based business models for the region.
Apart from that we have built a vast network of partners. We work together with international NGOs like Plant for the Planet and have established good contacts with UNEP, we also work with important political partners like the ministry of environment of Kenya and the Kenya Forest Services and we have partners in science like the Kenya Forestry Research Institute and the University for Sustainable Development in Eberswalde near Berlin. The project is mainly kept alive through the voluntary commitment of our team members, but we have also already raised some initial funding on betterplace.
If you are interested in learning more about our project, you can download our project description.
Who is Kijani?
Clearly our competent and motivated team members are Kijani's greatest asset: Daniel, my co-founder, who manages the work in Kenya brings in all his contacts in Kenya and the US. Urs, our forestry expert, who is just finishing his Master's at Yale, is a youth representative in the UN working group on forests and has received a stipend to work full-time for Kijani in Kenya for three months starting in October. David grew up in a rural Kenyan home and studies community development in Nairobi; he always finds the right words to talk to the community and his humor ensures that work never gets boring. In Armin we have a start-up experienced social entrepreneur who never looses sight of our finances and ensures that we don't loose ourselves in concepts but 'get shit done' as he likes to say. Denise — PhD candidate at the Entrepreneurship Center of RWTH Aachen — and Thomas — business consultant at EY — develop our marketing and social media strategies. Dave who has already successfully started an NGO in East Africa consults us on project management. Our film producer Jannis is incredible at getting highly skilled new people on board from his vast network as well as total strangers like filmmaker Justin in Kenya who is helping us create our first promotional video. Dickens and Liz keep the contact with our partners alive, advance our concepts in Kenya, and help out wherever needed. Zach and Kevin from the US helped me to develop the Design of Kijani and to build and care for our website. Our Kenyan lawyer-to-be Haron helps to maneuver the Kenyan bureaucracy. Robin and Sascha do the same in Germany where we have just founded our non-profit association last week.
The following photos should give you an impression of the diverse activities inside Kijani.
Dickens and me with Kids in Marmanet:
Daniel in Marmanet at a creek that will provide water for our first tree nursery:
Urs together with the whole Kenyan Kijani team and our chairman Ibrahim Omondi:
Meeting with people in the community, David and Dickens are carefully taking notes of all the ideas and vision of community members:
David, Haron and Dickens with the local forest officer Lukas and two rangers on location in Marmanet — the rifles are to scare off elephants and wood thieves:
Me at the filming of our promotion video at home in Berlin — the video will be done soon so stay tuned:
The founding meeting of members of the German Kijani non-profit association last week:
What's in it for You
There's one thing I haven't told you about yet: When we were searching for innovative fund raising concepts, Armin (in the next picture) had the idea to just bring the Kenyan forest to Germany. As our supporters, you can get seeds of Kenyan trees which will grow into beautiful indoor plants.
In the last months we have imported the first seeds and experimented with how to grow Acacia, Baobab, and Flamboyant trees under simple conditions in German living rooms. We are pretty proud of our results by now.
The project is entering beta phase now, so if you live in Germany, you can be among the first ones to grow a Kenyan tree at home. We need your support to keep this project going. If you are willing to contribute monthly or want to get seeds in Germany, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For one-time contribution please visit our website.
Please also help us to win $10,000 by voting for our proposal on Climate CoLab now. Then we will have a good chance to win the popular choice award.