On the southern edges of Nairobi, in the leafy suburb of Karen with a splendid view of the rolling Ngong hills, sits a manifested dream. Karen village.
Africa is a melting pot of cultures and resources, a continent whose people are known for colorful and vivid expression, with ideas, dreams, love, courage, determination, perseverance, strength and most importantly endless potential. Mr. Anthony had a dream, to build a hub for the cultivation of great ideas and dreams, to harness creative energy and develop synergy to power the future of Africa’s youth by giving them a platform and space to express the beauty of their minds, the purpose of their spirits, the conviction of their souls, the genius of their gifts and the work of their hands. Thus after many years of planning and deep thought and resource mobilization, the Karen village art, culture and heritage center was born. Set on 10 acres of prime land in a secure and serene environment, stands an idea whose time come.
Karen village was conceptualized with the development, nurture, conservation and promotion of art, culture and heritage as its anchor. This has been duly achieved with various facilities and spaces I.e. studios, art residency rooms, a gallery, museum, theatre space, a performance stage and library provided for use by those in the practice of these endeavors; these include fine artists, musicians, dancers, actors ,film makers ,animators, glass artists, sculptors and digital artists. I hereby mention one creative enterprise that is not only an inspiration but also validation to the viability of the concept. Ocean sole is a world renowned brand operating from Karen Village, this is a social enterprise that up cycles washed up flip flops from Kenya’s beaches and waterways, transforming them in to beautiful works of art sold worldwide. Ocean sole supports more than 1000 people through the collection of flip flops and in direct employment, furthermore it contributes extensively in the conservation of marine life and beach environments. The contribution of ocean sole to conservation, social development, and creative output has had a massive impact worldwide. We must therefore dare to dream of 100 or more such enterprises at Karen village.
Karen village, birthed in the spirit of creativity has grown to attract other entities in diverse entrepreneurial endeavors that have provided the project with a rich mix of offerings that have brought about a unique experience at the village. These include restaurants, shops, bars, tour companies, dentists, architects, farmers market, event planners, hardware retailer, security companies, a community radio station and more. It is important to note that these businesses employ and support more than 250 people.
It is worthy to note that all these enterprises were once only dreams and ideas, but are now a reality happening within the Karen village, this diversity and unique mix of businesses are nestled inside a haven of creativity, This unique atmosphere was purposely created to allow for the free exchange of ideas and to encourage collaboration across various disciplines. A foreign artist in residency, sitting down with a local artist, a dentist and an architect in a restaurant offering local cuisine exchanging ideas and sharing experiences while enjoying music from a young musician playing the guitar, a poet waits for her turn to perform, while a painter is sited quietly in a far end corner, observing human behavior and sketching ,there is animated conversation, laughter, clucking of cutlery as customers enjoy their meals and entertainment, this is a recurrent scene at Karen village.
As Karen village grows, it continues to reflect the bigger picture of the whole project, which is to offer a platform for the youth in creative enterprises to develop their ideas and perfect their trade, which will then be carefully packaged for the global market. Currently there is a lot of creative output being lost or wasted due to lack of access to the global market. By building a conducive environment ,the necessary structures and facilitating youths to execute their ideas and become competitive in the global arena, the village is confidently marching towards the realization of Africa’s’ potential through its youth.
Karen village continues to invest in technologies that will aid in the realization of
its founder’s vision. By leveraging technology to advance its objectives as recently witnessed by the launch of the campus battle competition at the Karen village that has participants from all over Africa and broadcasted across various platforms