Stories that share the personal accounts of individuals and communities transformed by inspiration from the White Rose Way
WAGES: In the 1950s, White Rose Dry Cleaners’ founder started with principles that were unheard of in Kenya in those days. He considered his workers part of his larger family. He started paying them wages 200-300% higher than those prevailing at that time. This confused and perturbed many in the business community.
FOOD: A few months after the opening of the factory, the founder visited his staff only to realize that they had not had any lunch. He called the architect who designed the White Rose factory on Dunga Road in the Industrial area. " I want you to build a kitchen attached to the factory." When that was constructed, all his staff began to enjoy a nutritious lunch at no cost. Moreover, he ensured that every single worker received a Christmas bonus of fresh meat for the family.
HEALTH: Health facilities were not easily accessible to the staff during Colonial days. Our founder ensured that his family doctor would visit the factory and check the workers once a month.
HOUSING: One day our founder asked a staff member where he lived how long it took him to get to work. He discovered that he and several workers had travelled several miles on foot to come to work. Once again, he called his architect and told him, "Please design a housing block for the staff. I've obtained land close to the factory."
SOCIAL JUSTICE: It is not well-known today, but during the colonial period it was common practice to serve Europeans first. Our founder established a simple policy: first come, first serve. If an African or Asian walked into any shop before a European, they were served in proper order. Despite occasional fits of rage from racists, White Rose stuck to this policy. People learned, and observed this elementary principle of fairness that later spread across the businesses of Kenya.
One day, our founder noticed a young African boy sitting on the steps of a European nursery school reading a book. He discovered that this boy was not allowed in the school despite the fact that his father was employed at the school, because of his race. He found out that the name of this boy was John Muraya. He undertook to pay for his schooling, and when he finished, hired him at White Rose. John, now deceased, rose to become not only chief accountant, but also a shareholder and director in the business and a proud owner of a dry-cleaning business (supported by the White Rose family) in Umoja run by his wife and son to this day. These policies were revolutionary for the 1950’s.
White Rose also helped establish and continuously supports the Hawkers Market Girls Centre, a community based organisation that works in partnership with other organizations to enable girls and young women to develop their fullest potential by providing them with both vocational and life skills.
The girls who come to the center are from the slums surrounding the city of Nairobi. In the slums there is no fresh water, no space and no sanitation. HMGC is there home away from home. HMGC provides safe water, free food and free education. HMGC has dedicated mentors who love, care and support the girls.
The Company has supported directly or indirectly Social Enterprise Initiatives. These include:
(a) Enhancement of incomes of over 12,000 small holder farmers mainly women through the award winning Honey Care Africa http://honeycareafrica.com
(b) Affordable housing for low income families through Karibu Homes
The Company also supports broader Social Development Initiatives. Namely:
(a) Rural Development, Health and Education Initiatives, through the Aga Khan Foundation.
(b) Scholarships in film making through the East African Film Academy.
(c) Psychotherapy for financially and socially challenged youth through Essential Therapy.