How parenting gave us business ideas: Kanyi Rigii came up with Yetoto Play after she constructed play equipment for her son
By Jasmine Wambui
While growing up, Kanyi Rigii had grand dreams of being an air hostess with our national carrier Kenya Airways, after reading the novel, Anna the Air Hostess.
Her love for reading allowed her to dream and visit places through flipping the pages of several books and learning about different cultures of the world right from the comfort of their family home in Kiambu county where she was born and raised.
Somewhere along the way, Kanyi changed her dream career to being a neurosurgeon and even got a chance of working in a hospital setting doing administrative work, but her dream of becoming a medic never came to pass.
Today, Kanyi is a budding entrepreneur who boasts of having more than one major source of income. Her business ventures were formed as soon as she became a mother as a way of looking for parenting solutions to her own problems.
“My husband and I wanted play equipment and we could not find something suitable for our son.
So, we decided to construct what we would like and everything we came up with turned out so well,” she recalls.
Out of that she became the proud owner of her first business venture known as Yetoto Play, a company that constructs and sells custom made play equipment for children of all ages.
Other than that, Kanyi owns an outdoor space known as, Turi a Mumbi (We belong to Mumbi), which is also a Kikuyu cultural centre.
“The cultural centre was born out of our search for a conducive environment for our children.
As our family was growing, we never liked the idea of living in apartments, so we started searching for a place where our children could just enjoy being children and we created this lovely space,” she says.
Back to the roots
The lush green grounds with little waterfalls in the heart of Limuru is appealing to the eye.
The décor encompasses a bold splash of colour, which always has a way of warming up the environment.
The arts and cultural centre doubles up as their home and work area. Visitors can have a traditional Kikuyu meal in the restaurant within the cultural centre known as Karuma, where one can also enjoy reading Kikuyu books written by different authors.
Kanyi loved the library idea so much that it later led to the start of her publishing company known as Wanyururu, which was recently launched together with her children’s books written in the Kikuyu language and a Kikuyu board game known as Tura Ndemwa (Build words).
“These are all meant to teach the Kikuyu language to all who are interested in getting to understand and know more about the Kikuyu culture and history in all aspects,” says Kanyi.
However, Kanyi adds that publishing is not an easy venture as it is costly and time consuming.
According to the mumentreprenuer, the future is digital and she is looking forward to being part of the massive growth in culture within that sphere as she aims at reaching learners through all five senses by using the digital space.
She has managed to get her books online through a website where people are able to purchase not only books, but music created by her musician husband, Kwame Rigii.
This young power couple has become a force to reckon with when it comes to raising a modern traditional family in Kenya today as they both believe that every child should be well conversant in their mother tongue.
Investing on the future
“The first language we speak to our children is Kikuyu. They learn that first before anything else. We believe that one should never forget their roots,” she says.
The couple occasionally hosts Kikuyu cultural festivals in their compound where guests are treated to live Kikuyu music done by Kwame and other guest artists. Their marriage has remained solid because of the strong traditional family values that they both share.
Kanyi and her husband use an interesting method of parenting and upbringing of their children, which many modern parents have shunned away from. They homeschool their children.
They are able to teach their children regardless of what stage or age they are in life.
“There are topics we cover, that maybe, I covered in high school, there are others their age group have covered, but we haven’t. It is child led, interest led,” she explains.
This has boosted their children’s confidence in many ways allowing them to bring out their various talents and personalities.
“When our children become adults, we would also want them to come up with their own interesting ways of making money other than being employed.
We are the ones to show them that it is possible and we are glad that they are slowly getting to understand that by creating this kind of life for them,” says Kanyi in conclusion.