Hello, and thank you for joining our second discussion of a multi-part series where we learn from leaders in the black business community. We are honoured to use our platform as a means to understand business triumphs, personal experiences, and ideas on how we can achieve equality and justice for the under-represented.
As we learn from each leader we then hope to compile a published article on our understanding of how we as a business, and how our viewers can support the eradication of systemic racism from our community. Without any further or do I’m honoured to share with you our second discussion of the Initiative for Black Business Mobility, thank you.
Introduction – Hi, and welcome to this discussion. What’s your name? Where are you from? Let’s hear about the real you.
I am Ken Okondo, founder of Karibu Handcrafted Soaps. I was born and raised in Kenya, and have been residing in New Westminster BC for nearly a decade.
Your Company – Which company do you operate? Which problem does your company solve? Who are your customers?
is a New Westminster-based micro business passionate about creating unique handmade soap using locally sourced natural ingredients. The word Karibu means “Welcome” in Swahili, the native language in Kenya, my birthplace.
I started the business in 2020 with a desire to play a role in providing a healthy solution for hand hygiene amid the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak. Karibu Soaps’ intention is to also draw people’s attention to the serious threat that plastic poses to our environment and natural resources, and we do this by our zero-waste and no packaging approach (our products are sold ‘bare & basic’ and made with minimal ingredients).
Our customers range in all ages, and we have formed partnerships with like-minded retailers from Whistler BC all the way to Toronto ON, who ensure our products get to the hands of as many Canadians as possible.
Systemic Racism – What are your thoughts on systemic racism?
As a Black Canadian, whenever I come across this term it promptly brings to mind the injustices faced by fellow Black Canadians on a daily basis. Systemic economic inequality is still deeply entrenched and prevalent in this country, and a lot more needs to be done to level the playing field in all fronts, for all Canadians.
Your Experience – What is your experience with racism? Do you have any negative stories, or experiences with racism? Do you have experiences with racism in business?
I have been fortunate enough to not have personally faced direct and overt actions of racism, and I hope it stays this way. However, I do feel for those who have, and I want to be a part of the solution to tackling this divisive problem, in more ways than one, including keeping conversations going on about it, community activism and education, and using my business to highlight some of the ways we can all come together as one for a common good.
BLM – What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement?
This is a very necessary force that draws insistent attention to Anti-Black racism. To me it provides an open forum for the advocacy for respect and equality between people of African descent and other races. Members of the Black Community are adversely impacted by a variety of societal injustices and prejudice, and the Black Lives Matter movement centers on bringing change by being the focal point to bridging the gap on the widening socio-economic barriers.
Eradicate Racism – What steps can we take to eradicate racism, and create opportunity for all?
Effective education is at the forefront and is vital as a first step. Secondly, engaging in and creating spaces for thought-provoking discussions and conversations around
racism, and making people aware of Black experiences as well as recognizing the contributions Black people have made and continue to make in this country.
Inclusive Economy – At Bsbcon, a core focus is to help develop an inclusive economy. If you were to give us one piece of advice on how to help achieve that what would it be?
Use your platform to educate. Make real commitments to tackling issues of economic inequality by engaging and collaborating more with the Black community and actually supporting their businesses, projects, initiatives, and amplifying their voices.
Close Your Eyes – Paint us a picture of the world you want to see in regards to equality, social justice and diversity.
A world with no barriers. Communities full of openness and embracing dialogue. Humans coexisting in acceptance, cooperation, kindness, compassion, and helpfulness.
Karibu Handcrafted Soaps