This page was printed from

Crafting social change

Swatches | January 1, 2020 | By:

All of the profits from the Ubuntu Life fall 2019 line of bags, made with zippers donated by YKK®, support social impact programs in Kenya. Photo: YKK.

A unique project in the Maai Mahiu region of Kenya empowers communities by employing local women to create bags, jewelry and shoes. Ubuntu Life started as a center for children with disabilities. Once the children received the care they needed, the mothers started looking for employment opportunities. 

In 2011, Ubuntu opened a small shop with nine “Maker Mums” working on manual Singer sewing machines to create shopping bags, bandannas and other simple products. Today, the expanded business run by the nonprofit turns out a collection of sophisticated items. Ubuntu Life offers more than 80 people full-time, above-market employment and health insurance.

YKK®, a manufacturer of fastening and architectural products, also embraces helping others as a core value. Its philosophy of the “Cycle of Goodness” teaches that no one prospers without rendering benefit to others. 

With this belief in mind, YKK teamed up with Ubuntu Life on its fall 2019 line of bags. The company donated its #5 and #7 standard metal zippers in colors including sage grey, camel brown, midnight blue, hibiscus red and sea green. The zippers were used in products including Nairobi Totes in new colors, the Naivasha Tote, the Mara Backpack, new colors of the Love Crossbody with zip closure and the new Kisumu Pouch. For more information, visit  

Share this Story