Small businesses and entrepreneurship are the fuel that generates the economic growth that is necessary to revitalize the economy. It is the entrepreneurs who are the innovators, who foster the ideas which create new industries and new technologies. It is these ideas that form new companies, and these companies that employ people in their local communities, thereby helping to create improvements in the standard of living for all. UJAMAA EMPOWERMENT NETWORK embodies this spirit and energy in its meaning, mission, and vision. The extended family is a term used for a collective of people with shared goals of corporate ideals. These ideals motivate them to take the risk, to do for themselves, and drive them to achieve bold initiatives. It is our intention to find the resources, cultivate the environment, and make this possible in this web-based endeavour. We believe that this is what is vitally needed. The communities around us have unique histories that intertwine entrepreneurship and self help. At UJAMAA we desire to add to this history by providing the access to resources that will continue to bring economic growth to these communities.
Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. It features activities such as lighting a candle holder with seven candles and culminates in a feast and gift giving. It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966 to 1967. Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. The Nguzo Saba stands at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa.
Ujamaa is the forth principle of Kwanzaa; Ujamaa signifies the conceptualization of Cooperative Economics. This principle states:
We are to build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. The fourth Kwanzaa principle, Ujamaa, honors the value of cooperative economics. The definition of cooperative economics is “local people cooperating with each other to provide for the essentials of living.” The essentials of living include food, clothes, housing, education, and entertainment.
An interesting place to explore the principle of Ujamaa can be found within the hip-hop music culture. KRS1’s description of hip-hop in which he states “Hip is a form of intelligence to be hip is to be update and relevant! Hop is a form of movement upward you cannot just observe a hop, you cannot just talk about a hop, you got to get up and do it!” in relation to taking care of the business of the day. This was the attitude coined in the streets of New York’s poverty stricken areas. Their youth realized that they had to come together and do something to change their situation by making money together using their cultures, rhyming over beats, break dancing, and art graffiti.
Another one of Africa’s most respected figures, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania (1922 to 1999), was a politician of principle and intelligence. Known as Mwalimu or teacher, he had a vision of education and social action that was rich with possibility. By the late 1960’s Tanzania was one of the world’s poorest countries. Like many others, it was suffering from a severe foreign-debt burden, a decrease in foreign aid, and a fall in the price of commodities. His solution – the collectivization of agriculture, “villigization” and large-scale nationalization – was a unique blend of socialism and communal life. The vision was set out in the Arusha Declaration of 1967. The objective of socialism in the United Republic of Tanzania was to build a society in which all members had equal rights and equal opportunities; in which all can live in peace with their neighbors without suffering or imposing injustice, being exploited, or exploiting; and in which all have a gradually increasing basic level of material welfare before any individual lives in luxury. (Nyerere 1968: 340)
“Ujamaa’s business is the development of our client’s business.”
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