This business idea transcends borders. Three young men – two Swiss and a Kenyan – make hand-made towels, jewelry, table cloths and bags.

For two years, the Trio produced on his Label Maembe collections in Kenya and sells them in Switzerland. In order to create sustainable fashion and social engagement.

four years ago

friends Met Till Schmidlin (28) from Basel, and John Bond Macharia (23) from Kenya four years ago at a home party in Basel. The young man from Kenya completed during his one-year stay in Switzerland, a Patisserie-training at the hotel school. He worked in the kitchen of the Basel Nobel hotel Les Trois Rois.

In the context of a geography internship under the then Student Till Schmidlin took shortly before his first trip to Kenya. “As a result, John and I, from the beginning, a lot of talk about Kenya and common interests,” says Till Schmidlin . Shortly after, Till’s friend and study-mate Aaron Brechbühl (28) was regularly one of the party in the case of joint ventures.

At the beginning of a bath towel

From his first Kenya trip has brought Till Schmidlin many substances home with you. “The colourful cotton fabrics I liked them, and I had to make the idea of this beach or bath towels,” says Schmidlin . A significant advantage he had: His mother is a seamstress and stand him with advice and assistance in the implementation of its prototype to the side.

from then on, he worked with his friends to cut patterns, stitching the various models of towels, throws, table cloths, expanded the range of Kenyan jewellery and bags and tied with Johns support more contacts in Kenya.

The Trio mused, as his collections in Kenya produce and in Switzerland could sell. As of 2017, the Label was founded in Maembe. “We wanted to under fair conditions will be produced and we can engage in social on-the-spot. But we wanted to bring in another third-world product on the market, but high-quality Goods that we would buy ourselves, and the like, ” explains Aaron Brechbühl. He studied sports and history at the University of Basel and now works in the social field, on a Basel school.

men, on the sewing machine

After the completion of the hotel school, John had to go back to Kenya and has since worked as a pastry Chef in a Restaurant in Nairobi. The relationship with Switzerland and the friendship with Till Schmidlin and Aaron Brechbühl remained – Skype and Whatsapp, thank.

in addition to his Job, John has linked to suitable, local producers in his home country of new contacts, while the two young Swiss entrepreneurs of the rooms in the leisure in their home or in the Studio of Till’s mother to the sewing machine to sit, and according to their own patterns from the Kenyan cotton fabrics products such as backpacks or scarves to make.

Occasionally, John is in Switzerland. More Aaron Brechbühl and Till Schmidlin fly to Kenya and visit your friend and Partner. Where others go on Safari and relax on vacation, take advantage of the time and place for your Start-up, bring the seamstresses a new pattern, search for new materials, visit producers and maintain the contacts with their Kenyan employees.

The wipes are produced in a suburb of Nairobi, in a 40-year-old family business. The bags are made in a Non-Profit Workshop in Mai Mahiu and the accessories by Maasai women in Ngong Hills.

experience gain instead of salary for the founder

“Until now, we have paid no wages. With the proceeds of the sale, we pay the staff in Kenya as well as new substances and products,” explains the future of the HSG Student Till Schmidlin. After finishing his first degree, he worked alongside his Start-up in projects for development cooperation abroad. Currently, he is employed at the University of Basel and conducts research on the topic of Fairtrade.

the travel, the Trio paid for out of pocket. Support in the sale of small fairs and market in Switzerland, the Swiss get stands, especially of family and friends. Instead of a warehouse in the basement of Aaron Brechbühl is used, and also in the parents house Till Schmidlin are stored products sold in the Online Shop. So the investment and cost of the students were kept in the initial phase of Maembe deep. Aaron Brechbühl: “For us, building our own Start-ups was also a professional and personal development. We learned a lot myself.”

The business idea with a social commitment, and trendy accessories from Kenya was now in Switzerland, far beyond the circle of friends also known. In some shops, there are also products of the young label are now available. The Kenyan employees benefit Goods from the success of your custom-made. You will receive this year in addition to your wages five per cent of the profit. Aaron Brechbühl: “Maybe a small reward for us is this year for the first time in there.”