Muthoni Unchained, a company whose culture hub and online marketplace for artisans is empowering Africa’s creative economy today announced they have been selected to join the Legends Jasiri Edition – a revolutionary platform conceptualised and implemented by the UK Kenya Tech Hub in conjunction with CIO East Africa.
Muthoni Unchained, launched last year by three Kenyan women – Nyambogo Jennifer, Pauline Kariuki and Ivy Kinyanjui – was among only 10 entrepreneurs selected to join the Legends Jasiri Edition platform due to the impact their business and technology solutions have had in their communities and for their story of courage.
Jennifer and Pauline; two of the co-founders left well-paying jobs in the middle of a pandemic to address a problem that, though has been there for years, had gotten worse due to COVID-19. They set off on a quest to transform the lives of African artisans by creating the largest online marketplace for their crafts whilst providing them with tailored financial solutions.
(TOP: Muthoni Unchained Founders – from left – Pauline Kariuki, CTO; Nyambogo Jennifer, Creative Director; and Ivy Kinyanjui, the Chief Experience Officer).
Africa’s cultural economy is one of the largest and most diverse sectors in the world. It however remains an informal sector that is wildly unorganized, decentralized and unregulated. As a result, its growth and development are stifled leaving its main stakeholder- the artisan, poor and forced to abandon their craft to pursue other sources of income. For the consumer, access to hand made crafts has been a hassle as the artisans are only congregated in open-air markets.
Their flagship platform CULTURE HUB is an online crafts marketplace that brings together all the value chain players in the culture economy across Africa; from producer/artisan to raw material providers, the consumer, financial institutions, knowledge partners and retailers onto one platform where they can trade directly.
Following the announcement of the Legends Jasiri Edition cohort, Jennifer Nyambogo, Co-founder and Creative Director at Muthoni Unchained said, “we are delighted to be selected for our work and impact in the creative economy which goes beyond just building a marketplace. We are also providing financial services in the form of loans, insurance, credit line and savings to artisans to boost their production and secure their futures. Due to travel restrictions and regulations on public gatherings across the globe, craftsmen and women across Africa have experienced tremendous losses in revenue. Our culture hub could not have come at a better time. This year, we have seen a surge in the number of vendors on our platform. There are still limitless possibilities for innovation in the space. We believe that this Jasiri platform will expose us to new markets and opportunities.”
Built as a one-stop shop for African handicrafts, the culture hub is seeking to make cultural artefacts, jewellery, paintings, apparel, fabrics, footwear and traditional musical instruments more available to the mainstream global market at a time when this sector has been greatly affected due to a decline in tourism.
Announcing the cohort on their website and social channels, CIO East Africa said that a total of close to 100 start-up techpreneurs applied for the project. The top 10 were gleaned from this crowd following a thorough evaluation of their stories, the tools, and tech used to run these businesses. The news article announcing the #jasiriLegends platform noted.
With over 100 craft vendors signed up so far since the launch of the culture hub in April this year, Muthoni Unchained’s goal is to sign up 100,000 African artisans on their platform by 2030.
Muthoni Unchained uses technology to organize and transform the culture economy of Africa. ‘Culture economy of Africa’ takes into account everything which is produced by culture in the broad sense of the term with high added value and export potential. This mainly includes the handicrafts sector, hair aesthetics, arts and fashion.
Through our marketplace platform, CULTURE HUB, we facilitate the interaction of value chain players in the culture economy across Africa; from producer/artisan to raw material providers, the consumer, financial institutions, knowledge partners and retailers.
At the heart of the business, is creating a larger market for African artisans to sell their crafts; and on the other hand, for the consumer to conveniently access cultural crafts from all over Africa.