Are you starting to pick up on the fact that each of us has a unique path, a unique story that can impact the world for good?
You, yes you. You were born to be a world changer.
This is a story of two sisters working in the corporate world, who were grateful for their mobile phones and dared to dream of how life would be different for women in Tanzania if they had access to mobile phones.
I love this story so much because it highlights that our HeartStories are each so different, yet show up in such beautiful ways.
So happy to introduce you to Kim Waeber, Co-founder of kidogo kidogo.
Hi Kim, would you share with us a little about your life before you started you kidogo kidogo?
My sisters and I were Air Force brats so we lived all over the country and ended up in Maryland. I went to the University of Maryland (Go Terps!) where I was President of my sorority Delta Delta Delta. I attended Mount St. Mary’s and Columbia University for graduate school. I married a college lacrosse coach, which brought us to Richmond, where he is the head coach of the men’s lacrosse team at University of Richmond.
Cofounder and CEO Kristen is my younger sister. She also attended University of Maryland for undergrad and then NYU for graduate school. Kristen is an avid traveler and is currently living in Africa. She is an adventurer, scratch golfer, and a pilot. There is literally nothing she can’t do!
Tell us about the moment you knew for sure you had to do something.
The idea for Kidogo Kidogo came from my sister and CEO, Kristen.
Having spent a lot of time working in the telecommunications sector in the developing world, she knew a lot about the value that a mobile phone played in people’s lives. She attended mobile health conferences and heard of how mobile phones are used to send free mosquito net vouchers to people to prevent malaria. She heard from farmers who told her that by accessing market-pricing information on their mobile phones they were able to make more money selling their crops. She heard directly from women, about how a phone gives them the power of information to help them run their businesses more effectively.
After having read a report by the GSMA called Women & Mobile a Global Opportunity, she learned that women in Africa were 23% less likely than men to own a mobile phone and that the main barrier to ownership was the cost of a handset. Reading the information on the benefits of mobile ownership and the lack of mobile phones owned by women, after learning all of this she knew she had to do something.
One phone call to me and I was onboard!
How did you decide on the specific products you have now?
We thought mobile phones-mobile phone cases was a natural partnership.
We chose the case models based on what we think out target demographic uses in terms of phone model. Our prints are Tanzanian inspired and come with a rather unique back story. Kristen was walking though stores in Tanzania and saw this amazing postcard. She flipped it over and saw Sarah Markes’ name and found out she lived very close by.
Kristen reached out to her to set up a meeting to tell her about kidogo kidogo and Sarah was gracious enough to work with us. We think her work just screams Tanzania and we were both drawn to her prints. We have been discussing adding additional artists. We hope to find other women living in Tanzania who can provide their work for future lines.
How did you get started? Where did you get the funding?
We started in our homes, and used our own money to fund the company. We were wedding planning and Kristen was overseas, but we were passionate and knew the financial sacrifice would be worth it.
What keeps you up at night?
I think my biggest concern is that we won’t be able to reach enough people to make a difference.
I think this is fairly common for people who start companies with a social mission. You are passionate about your cause and want other people to be as well.
Describe your support system through the evolution of your business.
Our friends and family have been a huge help.
My husband has graciously given up 1 of our 2 apartment bedrooms for my office. Our friends have been great in terms of spreading the work, editing our press releases, helping us chose designs, putting us in touch with retailers. They have really helped us throughout the whole process!
Tell us about one thing you learned the hard way, that you wish someone would have taught you.
You need a solid elevator pitch.
Marketing your cause happens every day and not always when you are expecting it. You should work on your 60-second story that can make someone you just met passionate or at the very least intrigued by what you are doing. You can never be caught off guard with a quick to the point story about your cause.
In our case, most people are unaware of the advantages of a mobile phone to a woman in a developing country so we have to get right to the point and make people aware of the issue. Every entrepreneur is passionate about his or her own cause, but making other people passionate is what will help you sink or swim.
What’s been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?
Time, time, time!
Yes Kim! Time is our most valuable resource and you’re giving it in spades. Your generosity will affect generations to come and I’m so thrilled we get to join you and be a small part of that story. Thank you for sharing your story with us today.
We’re behind you 1000% and can’t wait to watch your story unfold.
to more love,