How “Tripe Stew” Empowers This Sustainable-Business Owner

Kate Holby is the cofounder of Ajiri Tea Company — an organization dishing out award-winning tea sourced from small farms in Kenya. Each box of tea arrives in packaging handcrafted by a group of Kenyan women, and 100% of the company’s profits go toward school fees for Kenyan orphans. Kate and her sister have been in business together for 10 years now, and recently, they were declared finalists with Stacy's Rise Project — a program that provides grants and mentorship to female entrepreneurs in the food and drink space. Here’s how Kate finds her power...
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I feel most powerful when...
"I feel my most powerful when I exit my comfort zone. Working with Ajiri Tea, I am constantly outside my comfort zone — whether I’m in an office pitching to new buyers or in a village in Kisii, Kenya sampling matumbo (tripe stew). My ability to enter new experiences — and learn from them — despite my trepidations always leaves me feeling more powerful."
Power to me means...
"To me, power means directing your choices to where your heart is. I understand the struggles of small businesses, so I try to make the choice to support small vendors and businesses (and not the Amazons of the world) whenever I can. I care about the environment, so I make the choice to consume less (and not impulse-buy that random, unnecessary sweater). To me, power is aligning your choices with your values."
What do you do when you feel powerless?
"It is so easy to feel powerless today when the news is packed with headlines like, 'Oceans Full of Plastic,' 'Democracy Falling Apart,' and 'Being A Woman is Hard.' How can my small choices measure up to global impact? But when I'm feeling particularly small, I remind myself that a movement takes time. Movements are made up of lots of people directing their energy and passion into solving smaller problems. Even in my own tiny contributions, I can find power in knowing I am a small piece in a much larger movement toward more sustainable, ethical business."
What's your power anthem?
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"Probably 'Just Keep Swimming' from Finding Nemo. Running a small company can make you feel elated and defeated in the span of a day (and honestly, sometimes, in the span of an hour). But if I want to see change in the world — if I want to create opportunities for women, provide ethically sourced tea to my customers, and send students to school — then I have to keep on going...or 'swimming.'"
Who's your power icon?
"Roald Dahl. You don't have to be a politician or a world leader to have an impact. I am consistently inspired by Dahl's imagination, the kindness of his characters, his sense of joy, and his sense of fun. At Ajiri Tea, we are trying to make the world a better place by creating opportunities for women and orphans. But purposeful work doesn't always have to be serious! It can be, and should be, approached with a healthy sense of humor and imagination."
What do you wear when you want to feel powerful?
"Just my normal everyday clothes (think: jeans and T-shirts) and sensible footwear (I can't hike mountains in heels)."
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