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ciiru-waweru-774x450 In Change Maker Stories

Meet the Kenyan Furniture Maker Building the “Ikea” of Africa

Chances are that you have never heard of FunKidz, the Kenyan furniture brand that is set to take on the furniture industry in Africa and the rest of the world. FunKidz manufactures cabinets, desks, baby cots, and bunk beds for kids, targeting a niche market for children’s furniture in Kenya and the rest of Africa.

FunKidz is the brainchild of Kenyan entrepreneur Ciiru Waweru. A wife and mother of two active children, Waweru told a Quartz Africa Innovators Summit that she was inspired to start FunKidz while she and her husband awaited the birth of her first child. She recollects having trouble with finding good quality furniture for babies and children in the Kenyan market; she had identified a need and was thereafter determined to meet it.

FunKidz commenced production in 2010 with a vision of supplying Kenya and other African markets with excellent children’s furniture that can rival products from anywhere in the world. As a result, some have labelled FunKidz the “Ikea of Africa,” a compliment that acknowledges the factory’s reputation for manufacturing very high quality, mass-produced, modular furniture products that can be easily assembled or taken apart by the customers.

funkids-second-image

But Waweru says she has encountered people who have curiously remarked that the products she makes are not authentically African:

“We need to stop putting things in a label, in a box, and saying this isn’t African enough… What does that even mean? Through our design and products we hope to bridge that stereotype gap… where you look African and therefore your furniture must also look African,” she said.

Waweru says in addition to supplying world-class children’s furniture, she hopes to use the products from her company to offer a fresh narrative about African-made goods. Waweru is one of many African entrepreneurs working hard to change the dodgy stereotypes that associate African manufacturing with what are basically eccentric cultural artefacts or craftsproduced with no need for complex modern manufacturing technology.

Source: Rising Africa

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