What’s In a Name?
So where did the name Kwangu-Kwako come from?
Finding the right name for a social enterprise can make a surprising difference. It was important for us that it was not just a catchy word but also resonated and had meaning. It was also important to us that is was a Kiswahili word.
What are we providing? “Homes”, “security”, “safety”, “confidence”, all these and many other words were used to try to understand what our houses provide for the people who will make them their homes. We also asked a few friends what “home” meant. We also looked at “community”. Safer communities are also important. A fire in one home affects your neighbours. In informal settlements, sadly, it also affects the whole community, literally. We looked at many options but here are the 3 main ones in the order that ultimately led to Kwangu-Kwako.
Nyumba = House
When looking further at this and web searching for uses of this name, we obviously found many property and housing firms “Nyumba Homes”, “Nyumba Properties”, etc. Given that we were building houses too, we did not want confusion/association with higher value housing. There was also a children’s home charity, Nyumbani (Def – In a house, At home). Given the multitude of similar names already in use, we decided this was not the one.
Makao – residence, home, abode, domicile
This one was a strong contender. We checked the business names register, it was available so we reserved the name at Sheria House in Nairobi, worked up the registration documents, etc. In July/August, we submitted our registration and two weeks later went to collect our business registration certificate. “Sorry that name has already been taken”. “What? We reserved it” etc etc. We had done everything right but still it was gone. One of many early frustrations. Luckily though we don’t dwell too long on things that cannot be changed, however inexplicable. A trait that will be heavily tested in our social enterprise journey we are sure! Anyway, back to the drawing board.
Kwangu Kwako – My Place – Your Place
Finally, we were flicking through the trusty Kiswahili dictionary and found this one. My place – your place. “That works”. Whatever your home is, a tent, a mansion, a brick house, a concrete house, a cardboard box under a bridge, it is your home. We all make the best of our homes. What anyone else thinks does not matter it is “My place” or “your place”. The place in the world that is ours/yours and we make it the best we can.
That is the journey to Kwangu-Kwako Limited