Spotlight on Small Businesses: Kicheko Goods

Located in Northeast Washington, Kicheko Goods is a jewelry brand that benefits children’s education in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After a 2014 volunteer trip to Uvira, a Congolese village, Sarah Bayot was inspired to start her company. During her visit, she discovered that many of the children in the village lacked basic needs such as food, clean water and education. Despite such hardships, however, the children’s joy resonated with Bayot, inspiring the name of her company. In Swahili, “kicheko” means laughter.

For its jewelry, Kicheko sources ethically-made and environmentally-conscious materials such as wood, stone, ceramics and leather. Bayot’s studio makes small batches of each design as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. The jewelry designs reflect nature, myths and symbols like the evil eye.

Bayot is currently partnered with the Mango Tree School in Congo, the company’s first partner in the country.

In an interview with the District Fray Magazine, Bayot described what sparked her interest in the Mango Tree School. While working with a volunteer team in Congo, she fundraised and helped construction of a primary school called Mango Tree School. “I loved the ethos and the wider impact it would have for the community at large, so I built a scholarship program into Kicheko’s business model,” she explained.

The Mango Tree School educates about 200 children who are living in impoverished conditions, giving hope for a better and brighter future to the entire community. At the school, students develop a variety of skills, learning to speak French, English and Swahili.

Kicheko identifies as a social impact company. This term usually refers to businesses that not only work to solve a local or global issue, but also do so in an environmentally conscious manner.

For each item sold, Kicheko dedicates $5-6 of the profits to the school. One piece of jewelry can finance a month’s worth of education. So far, in addition to helping build a six-room school building, Kicheko has donated enough funds to cover the tuition at the Mango Tree Primary School for over 2,500 months, or over 200 years.

Social impact companies such as Kicheko are becoming increasingly popular. According to a 2018 study by Cause Labs, over 78% of Americans expect companies to make a positive social impact. Such sentiment encourages companies to include social impact as part of their missions to attract more customers, employees and investors. From a small jeweler in Washington to the most powerful company in the world, businesses can make the world a better place.