During the long rains of March 2013, the local Zambia River near Ngong (a small town located on the Southwest outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya), flooded and scattered plastic all over the land. Naomi “Ciru” Wanjiru was horrified by this sight and decided to find out what was causing the pollution. From her research she found that local garbage collectors dump trash collected from homes in the area into a landfill near the river. Since the landfill isn’t managed by the local government, the trash is carried into the river whenever it rains.

Reminiscing back to her childhood, the rivers were clean! She could remember fetching water and bathing in them, and in less than 15 years most of them have turned into polluted cesspools, dumping people’s trash into the ocean – an ocean we all share, each and every one of us! This is the story of many rivers across the world.

Since the local government wasn’t doing anything about the problem, she knew the solution would be in the hands of the local community members. Ciru knew that by doing something about this problem in her community, she could inspire others to join her.



In 2013, while attending the Amani Institute, a Social Innovation Management school based in Nairobi, Ciru was challenged to transform her desire to clean up the river into a socially-engaged business. It was then that she was joined by her co-founder and fellow Amani student, Jesah Segal from the US, to help implement the idea. Together they developed a viable business solution which marries a creative social and environmental impact to a sustainable revenue generating model.


I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.

- Henry David Thoreau, author, poet and philosopher