Kuja Pamoja

Kuja Pamoja is a project inspired by the story of Phanice Maiba, a small-scale trader in the informal settlement of Kibera on the outskirts of Nairobi. Phanice struggles to make ends meet as a single mother of seven children, with her only source of income generated by her small fruit and vegetable stall.

Kuja Pamoja targets the many small-scale traders in Kibera who are like Phanice. These traders face high business costs, comprised of stall maintenance fees, bribes, and loans. The most significant of these, however, is the direct cost of buying fruits and vegetables in the central markets in Nairobi each morning. Given these high costs, small-scale traders in Kibera earn small profits of only 200-300kSh a day, the equivalent of US$3-$4.

In partnership with the small business team of Umande Trust, Kuja Pamoja will leverage Umande Trust's already established loans programs to create groups of 4-5 small-scale traders. These groups can negotiate in Nairobi's central markets for bulk-purchases. By buying larger volumes, they achieve bulk discounts and traders can buy more produce without increasing the cost borne individually. The result increases their profits by 15-60% and saves time during the process.

The profits generated from these bulk purchases can be used to expand individual businesses and balance additional responsibilities that prove to be a significant draw on income and time. In the future, we envision that Kuja Pamoja's model will evolve to incorporate financial tools and training, in addition to generating more groups savings, thus become a powerful community force.

Our Team:

Chris Anderson is a Masters student in Computer Science and a Bachelors student in Symbolic Systems at Stanford University, with concentrations in human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence. His interests include applying mobile technology to real-world problems and understanding how human factors play into interface design. Chris' work experience includes web engineering internships at Silicon Valley startups Cooliris and iControl Networks. At Cooliris, he built a rich-content aggregation system for an enhanced browsing experience, and at iControl Networks, he worked with a team to develop home energy management solutions leveraging existing security products. Most recently, Chris worked as a product management intern at Google, managing an API configuration developer tool. He will return there full-time in the fall. In his spare time, he builds iPhone games, plays squash, and dreams of travelling.

Riah Forbes graduated from Stanford with a Bachelors degree (with honors) in Economics and International Relations, and will receive a Masters degree in Management Science & Engineering in 2011. She is interested in the intersection of technology and socioeconomic development, focusing on how technology can drive social change in developing countries. Riah grew up in India, lived in Singapore for two years and has been in California ever since. Her work experience includes fellowships at the Hewlett Foundation and educational and professional development nonprofits in India. Through the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, she conducted research on gender issues in North India and wrote an honors thesis on the effect a skewed male-female ratio has on local marriage markets. Riah will work within a Digital Commerce team, specifically responsible for mobile and international payments, at Google after she graduates and hopes to pursue a long-term career in technology and international development.

Aleema Jamal is currently pursuing concurrent degrees at Stanford University; a Bachelors in International Relations, and a Masters Degree in Management Science and Engineering. Aleema’s interests are broad, and have been supported through her studies in subjects ranging from the environment, policy, law, and engineering, to statistics, and economics. Aleema hopes to pull these interests together into a long-term career in international development. Aleema has led health, education, and technology-based projects internationally in Thailand, Pakistan, and East Africa. Aleema was a delegate at the Asia-Africa Summit for Chronic Diseases, held in Uganda. She drafted the declaration endorsed by the Assembly from 24 countries that included Ministers of Health and Finance, global experts in chronic diseases and civil society leaders. She was part of a crosscultural-design team, designing for the market in China, and has conducted policy and trade research with the International Chamber of Commerce.

Jonathan Kirschner is currently in the first year of a Masters in Business Administration at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. As part of a three-year program, he is concurrently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration/International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School. Jonathan is interested in supporting private sector innovation to create development solutions. During the summer of 2010, Jonathan worked in Chile with the Minister of Planning to create a methodology to evaluate the impact of Chile’s social programs. He went on to help a team of founders establish Gera, an education-focused Venture Capital fund in Brazil. Prior to graduate school, Jonathan worked as a consultant with Bain & Company in New York and South Africa. During that time he worked extensively in Private Equity and healthcare, in addition to cases in a number of other industries. Jonathan also worked for Brazilian IT services start-up, CPM Braxis, where he helped to design international operations expansion. Jonathan did his undergraduate studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where he studied international political economy and created a new certificate program focused on development. While in DC, he worked on democracy and development issues at both the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Democratic Institute. During his time at the Inter-American Development Bank, Jonathan helped to develop the IDB’s position on migrant remittances and to engage the US private sector in development contracts. .