Today we're chatting with Kim and Kristen Waeber, sisters and founders of the incredible iPhone case company kidogo kidogo, which donates a cell phone to a woman in Africa for every case sold. Learn more about the founders and the brand's powerful mission below! Q: How were you inspired to launch kidogo kidogo?
Kim: The idea for kidogo kidogo came from my sister, 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. And 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. When she called me with the idea to get people in the U.S. to contribute to buying women in Africa mobile phones by purchasing iPhone cases, I loved it and kidogo kidogo was born.
Q: What makes Kidogo Kidogo stand out from other one-for-one companies?
Kim: One of the things that makes kidogo kidogo different is that we are providing a tool that can actually help spur economic development and growth. It’s not just a one-time gift – it can be used over and over for a variety of reasons; for mobile health, mobile banking, flashlight, calculator, radio, just to name a few.
Another thing kidogo kidogo is doing that most other one-for-one companies do not do, is we are having research conducted which measures phone recipients quality of life before the donation, and then several months after. We want to make sure that the donations of phones is improving health, financial stability, education, political involvement, safety, communication with family members, etc. We are partnering with field researchers who are going to measure several lifestyle factors before and after the donations so we can be sure we are maximizing our impact.
Q: What advice would you have for other social entrepreneurs who want to advocate for a cause with their unique product?
Kim: Make sure you have a good partner and a good support system. Working with my sister Kristen has been great; if one of us starts to slack the other one picks up the work and vice versa. You also need friends and family who believe in your cause and will help you along the way. We’ve been very lucky to have received help from so many people.
Kristen: My advice is to have a good 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. Every entrepreneur is passionate about his or her own cause, but making other people passionate is what will help you sink or swim.
Q: If you could give your 20-year-old self one, single piece of career advice, what would it be and why?
Kim: I think I would tell myself to do what I enjoy and not just what pays the bills. This is obviously easier said than done, and being risk adverse I’m not even sure I’d even take my own advice! I do wish I had started kidogo kidogo a few years ago, and would encourage anyone thinking about starting a small business, a blog, or anything to stop putting it off or being afraid to fail and to just jump in and start, the amount you’ll learn will be amazing.
Kristen: My advice would have to be don’t be afraid of internships. They might not always pay as much as a friend’s summer job, but taking the right internship can be a game-changer in helping you decide what you want to do. I was lucky enough to get internships which paid off long-term and in my experience were well-worth it.