By Carmen B.
Most Americans know the month of February as Black History Month. The month during which the US public schools, along with public libraries and television programs, educate citizens on the many black leaders who have changed the landscape of America. However, there is a lesser known, but older black holiday, Juneteenth, that has been celebrated since 1865. June 19th went down in history as Black Independence Day when Texas was finally told to free their slaves because of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Although it began as a celebration by formerly enslaved black people in America, Juneteenth is now celebrated by all; including those who have immigrated to America from countries as far away as Kenya. Originally, observances included the wearing of special clothing, prayer meetings, and singing spirituals. Today, you will find black America celebrating Juneteenth with picnics, parades, music festivals, dancing, religious services, and educational activities.
As celebrations continue this June, may all Americans be faithful in keeping this historical tradition alive. In the wise words of Maya Angelou, “The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.”
As Kenyans living in the Diaspora, it is imperative that we celebrate Juneteenth 2021 by supporting the following Kenyan owned businesses with our wallets and our recommendations.
Founded by David Bulindah and Dickson Njeri, Wakulima USA is a farming and food business cooperative that advances small business development and food sovereignty for low income immigrants and people of color in the Puget Sound region. According to their website, the organization empowers people to harness their traditional food ways, modern farming techniques, and food innovation strategies to build successful businesses centered around healthy, sustainable, local farming and food production.
Founded by Eve Wambui, the company is based out of Texas and specializes in home-cooked meals, East African Cuisine, Kenyan Street Foods, Keto, Vegetarian, Dinner Parties, and Event Catering. They take pride in using African sourced spices and seasonings that add an African flair to each meal.
Founded by Coach Ken Kiboro, who is a Personal Trainer and health and fitness expert based in Placentia, California. Uzima Fitness has been helping people improve their overall health and quality of life through routine personal training and healthy lifestyle coaching since 2012.
Founded by Miriam Chemmoss who, after doing a lot of research in the spring of 2015, created an herbal hair oil. Originally, it was just for her personal use – as she was experiencing postpartum hair loss shortly after her daughter, Imara, was born. The hair oil gave her better results than she bargained for and after sharing the oil with a few friends, the results were incredible and the rest is history.
Like most black women, founder Lilly Richards was unable to get the exact foundation for her skin tone and had to mix different foundations to get the desired results. As for lipsticks, she suffered dry, cracked, chapped and peeling lips. She came to realize that the products she was using contained harsh chemicals and ingredients to which she was allergic. As a mother of one, Lilly obtained her Makeup Artist Certification in order to understand the origin of makeup, the various types available, and how to use it to achieve specific looks.
Founded by Pablo Nzengu, “Nyumbani” seeks to be an identifying symbol where, in each State of the United States, there is a Kenyan who calls that State and Kenya, Nyumbani. The company bridges the gap between the Kenyan and the American identity by selling fashionable clothing to customers of all generations who are proud of their heritage and not afraid to rock it.
This is the first online coffee shop in America, owned by a Kenyan, to exclusively sell African grown coffee. Founder and second generation Kenyan, coffee farmer Mukurima Muiruki, witnessed first hand the exploitation of farmers by brokers and middlemen whose only goal was to turn a profit while disregarding the farmers’ interest to provide a better life for their families. African Coffee Club believes that correcting historically ingrained patterns of racial imbalance has a financial solution – pay everyone a living wage. The mantra of the company is: Don’t pay it forward, pay it Black!
Founded by Chef Jojo, their mission is to offer customers an African safari food experience that’s unique and memorable. Just like the bright and earthy colors that represent the continent, their dishes are colorful, flavorful and healthy. The company specializes in healthy African-influenced cuisine, which provides an exciting cross-cultural menu experience driven by a delicate balance of spices.
Gusa By Victoria LLC is a womenswear brand for the globe trotting fashion conscious woman and is inspired by colorful textiles and classic silhouettes. The collection is made from African inspired textiles which make a bold statement for women on the go.
- Gladys Law
Founded by Gladys Mogaka, the firm’s sole purpose is serving immigrants from every corner of the world. According to the profile on their website, the company reunites immigrants with their families, and helps foreign nationals obtain visas to visit, work or study in the U.S.
Working with skillful shoemakers in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, Doreen has developed a unique collection of trendy shoes for an audience of young to middle-aged women.
Founded by Dr. Christine Wachira, Wachira Wines is a black-owned, woman-owned winery in Alameda County, California.
Dr. Wachira prides herself as the first Kenyan-born California winemaker, distributor, importer, and exporter. As a young immigrant working her way through college earning her Doctorate, she fell in love with the science of winemaking and developed a deep appreciation for the sense of community built from sharing a bottle of wine with complete strangers.
Founder Maureen was inspired to create Ng’ara Designs in 2018 as a way of healing from Domestic Abuse, burnout from Corporate America and her love for fashion. Ng’ara Designs source fabrics for their garments from Kenya & Uganda to construct one-of-a-kind garments with excellent craftsmanship.
May Lebo and Lavender Wachira met in grad school while pursuing their MBA in International Business. Although they grew up in two different parts of Kenya, they had similar values – the main one being cleanliness. And from that MayLav Elite Cleaning was born!
- Lights and Salt Realty
A real estate company founded by Owen Kinyungu when he moved to Colorado in 2000 from Nebraska after completing a Masters in Manufacturing Systems Engineering (and a minor in Computer Science) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Owen is a seasoned Realtor and has assisted many clients in the buying and selling of properties in Colorado. He prides himself on honesty and in keeping his clients informed every step of the way – helping them to negotiate the best possible price with good contract terms and by working with them at their own pace.
Founded by Frank Wesonga, the company supports individuals with autism and their families while at the same time being on the forefront raising awareness of autism within the wider society. They use a family-centered approach in helping children with autism.
Founded by Lilian Wa Kaesa, this is an Afrocentric store that aims to inspire African culture and fashion globally. From the intricate beadwork to the most vibrant patterns, you will definitely find an African themed, stylish and trendy look with Lilo’s Trends
Founded by Linda Stewart, the company’s vision is to help the average working American family prepare quick meals as they juggle between multiple responsibilities and obligations. For Kenyans in America, you will get a quick snack of chapati, samosa or Andazi from Motomoto kitchen.
- Reen Beauty
Whether you are looking for a flowy maxi dress that skims the right places or a little black dress you would never ditch, then Reen Beauty is your go to shop. Founded by Irene Atis, the company has curated their dresses to help you find the one that matches your personal style.
Founded by Esther Nkaambi Hopper – Esther is passionate about colorful beads and creative works that are made by artisans from her beloved country, Kenya, and curates beautiful pieces in her E-commerce store. Above all, she makes sure the artisans are paid fair wages for their labor. All pieces are handcrafted with love in Kenya by a curated group of artisans who specialize in bead, brass, African print designs and leather work.
- Brazos Springs Direct Primary Care
Located in Houston, Texas and founded by Dr. Esther Mwiyeria Ngare – a board certified Family Medicine Physician.
Dr. Ngare trained at the University of Nairobi Medical School and then moved to the US where she completed residency training at the University of Pittsburgh Mckeesport Family Medicine Residency Program. She has since worked in a variety of practice settings in both Pittsburgh and in Houston.
Beyond treating disease, Esther’s passion is to form close partnerships with her patients to promote individualized plans of care that address their unique health challenges. She seeks to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles in her patients and prevent disease rather than wait to treat it. For the aforementioned reasons, Esther decided to open her own practice.
- PPP Financial Firm
A financial lending company founded by Sly Kinuthia in 2011 for the purpose of solving a major issue facing small businesses: financing. The company combines a passion for Main Street with cutting-edge technology to evaluate businesses based on their actual performance – not personal credit.
Founded by Robertson Ngata, the company is involved in people transportation in and out of major southern California airports to other destinations. His company boasts of a fleet of vehicles ranging from Mercedes S-class and High-end Range Rovers, among others. Through his company, he currently employs about ten drivers who work on a commission basis. He reiterates that competing in the same industry as Uber, Lyft and others requires hard work, determination, and discipline.
Annie and Julius started with the experiment of home made juice from a recipe handed down to them by their Grandmother in Kenya. Two years ago they discovered their first homemade juice Turmeric Magic which they named “Health in a Bottle”. After sharing the juice with friends, family and neighbors and afterwards getting positive reviews, they decided to share the goodness with the rest of the world.
Founded by Gregory Mburu – With Kentex Cargo, you can shop and ship anything you want from any US store and get it delivered to Kenya in as little as 14 business days.
- OK Produce, Philadelphia
Do you like the feeling of buying fresh farm produce? Imagine shopping at Karatina open air markets or Marigiti? Brethren Mercy, from Kirinyaga, founded the company to provide locals with fresh and affordable fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereals. Everything they sell is organic and healthy
- MedQ Global Staffing
Founded by Imani Richardson, they are a leading staffing agency in Dallas, Texas providing Temp, Temp-to-Hire, and Direct Placement services in the healthcare industry
- Esther Amunga, Author, Speaker, Trainer
Esther is a dynamic and inspiring educator with exceptional abilities to motivate and inspire others to be the best they can be. She has demonstrable leadership skills along with integrity that brings out the best in everyone.
- Alpha Courier of Atlanta
Founded in July 1997 by Ralph Kilondu as a small delivery company, Alpha Courier has grown to become a transportation chain and logistics provider that serves corporate America in Atlanta. The company initially contracted Kenyan College students who would work after classes delivering UPS/FEDEX/Airborne express (now DHL) packages to customers within a 100-mile radius of Atlanta in their small cars. The company supported these students with the necessary financial support they needed to continue with their college education in American universities. Over the years, Alpha Courier of Atlanta Inc has secured contracts with local manufacturers of laminates and granite countertops, packaging materials and national shippers of freights of all kinds. It has grown its fleet of tractor trailers and 26 ft box trucks while employing drivers who deliver throughout the region.
- Ruftek Roofing and Construction
Founded by J. Karoki – Ruftek provides commercial, industrial, and residential roofing services in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Founder Mary Kimari struggled with finding chic, comfortable, stylish, and affordable athletic apparel to accentuate her curves. She believes every woman should have access to beautiful and affordable athletic wear. Exekutie caters to all woman with all body shapes and sizes who prefer style and comfort.
The company founded by DJ Teackles provides professional and quality entertainment packages for all types of events whether persons-weddings et al, or corporate.
A creation of North Carolina based Sunny Chauhan (Dj Sunny Sistuki), the company will set you up with any Kenyan-inspired merchandise including phone cases, bracelets, lapel pins, and T-shirts.
Founded by Margaret Nzomo, the company connect USA and Kenya with everything tours and travel with a promise of safety and value for money
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