I have a second life in Kenya that I time travel to every year. It started many years before I naively leaped into the snowsports industry. Founding Coalition was actually my exit plan: Build a business in Kenya, then turn it over to local Kenyan women to run, and then figure out how you pay your rent. (Oops, lol.)
Because of that, I don't get to spend as much time in Kenya as I'd like, but that history, those decades spent learning about and creating a home in an expansive, gorgeous rural community just a three hour's train ride south of Nairobi, has worked its way into every facet of my life. There is no separating what we do at Coalition and what we do at Zawadisha. The two have grown to compliment and support each other over the years.
That's why you'll hear us talk about it here. We plant trees for every ski and snowboard sold, and we pay local women to plant and care for them. We now offer affordable cycling tours through Kenya, where you get to not feel like a tourist and fall in love with a place and people just as I have, seeing things that very few people will ever be exposed to in their lifetime. It's how we're able to stock our shop Far Out with so many hard-to-find and handmade goods from across the African continent.
The best part, in my opinion, is that from the Far Out tours to the goods we sell, we are continually investing in this community by supporting local makers and.. wait for it... all proceeds benefit Zawadisha. Those proceeds create jobs for women, shift narratives about a continent that has been unfairly denigrated, and as trite as it might sound, help to build a better world.
I'm immensely proud of Zawadisha's work in Kenya. You can think of us as the Rent-A-Center of rural Kenya, providing life-changing household goods like solar lamps and rain water tanks to women, on credit, so that they can pay over time. It would be absolutely impossible for them to afford these things without Zawadisha. That $2 a day they earn on average doesn't get them far; after feeding their families and paying for school fees there's nothing left. But they deserve so much more than the cards they've been dealt simply because of where they were born.
This is such a simplified explanation of our work and how the Coalition x Zawadisha collab came to be. I hope that you'll join us sometime in Kenya or pop into the shop to learn more. It really is something special.
Jen Gurecki, she/her, CEO of Coalition Snow