COOPERATIVE SPÓŁDZIELNIA USHIRIKA is a socio-artistic project, grounded in traditions of cooperative movements, run by Alicja Wysocka (www.alfaomegi.com) and the community of Mathare Valley.

Cooperative Spółdzielnia Ushirika launched its activities on the 23rd of January 2017 in Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. It is located on the first floor, right above the Mathare Art Gallery. The project was made possible thanks to the support and assistance of the Razem Pamoja Foundation.



1. Collective creation
The operational basis of the cooperative in collective work, thanks to which the cooperative members exchange experiences, skills and develop their creativity. The activity of the Spółdzielnia Ushirika stems from tribal traditions, characteristic to this region of the world: everyday work is accompanied by conversations and communal meals. In contrast to the operations of a typical manufacture, work at the cooperative does not consist in a passive re-making of ready-made designs. Its members have an active input into the final form of the products they create.

2. Ensured work safety
The cooperative ensures safe and healthy working condition. All cooperative members are provided with health insurance.

3. Change of economic and social situation of the Cooperative Spółdzielnia Ushirika employees. We work from Monday to Friday, 9 – 16, including a lunch break.

4. Well-being and comfort at work
The cooperative provides food products for meals prepared and consumed by cooperative members, which strengthens their working and personal ties. Women can come to work with their children.

5. Learning skills, preparing for labour market
Learning and skills exchange is the Spółdzielnia Ushirika basic motto. Its employees have learnt to sew from scratch.

6. Use of local materials and recycling
The cooperative uses locally sourced materials, thereby supporting local economy. Used tyres and plastic bags are recycled.



USHIRIKA (from the Swahili) – a party, collaboration, community, group of interests, cooperative, collective, organisation, society, cooperation.



- during our workshop meetings, we learnt how to use manual and electric sewing machines,
- we learnt how to sew school uniforms, skirts, children’s dresses, how to knit and crochet, and weave sandal straps from plastic bags,
- until May of this year, we have produced over 200 bags (bag-packs, school rucksacks and travel bags),
- our first commission consisted in sewing costumes for a group of young dancers from Mathare slum,
- female members of the cooperative directed and performed a theatre piece, “Women Drama”, for the community of the slum at the opening of the Mathare Art Gallery,
- a POP UP workshop was established in front of the cooperative for a cobbler of Mathare with whom we co-produced a collection of sandals made from plastic bags,
- the cooperative designs silkscreen blueprints for its fabrics,
- we are working on publishing a book of poems and drawings by one of our members,
- the cooperative provides training and skills improvement in sewing for its new members.




Diana Adhiambo, Margert Adhiambo, Philgona Aluo, Brian Bera, Mary Mueni, Ann Mwikali, Millicent Ochieng, Susan Odhiambo, Rose Onyango, Nancy Opondo, Maureen Otieno, Alicja Wysocka

The cooperative is equipped with 9 sewing machinge (including 3 electric ones). Currently, the members are occupied with producing school rucksacks and uniforms for the schools in Mathare slum as well as in Nairobi and Poland.



You are not paying for a brand; instead, you are providing workplaces to people excluded by the economic system, contributing to a fair redistribution of goods.



Our profits go to:

salaries for our members and towards the cooperative’s working costs, i.e., rent, fabrics and materials, needles, threads, maintenance of our sewing machines, purchase of food products for communal meals at the cooperative, and remuneration for our teachers.



For the cooperative to continue and extend its operations, we need your help.
Buying our products, you ensure workplaces for our members.




Who we are



Diana Adhiambo

I’ve lived 2 years in Mathare slum. Before joining the Ushirika, I was a housewife. My dream is to be a professor. I am 27 years old and have one kid. If I were given a chance to help vulnerable women to have a better life, then happiness would overflow me.

Love comes tomorrow within, you try to feel what another person feels. Respect and care are mandatory.


Margert Adhiambo

I’ve lived in Mathare for 20 years, I am 45 years old, I have 7 kids. I was a tailor before coming to the Ushirika. My dream is to be a great tailor.

Love is happiness.


Philgona Aluo

I’ve lived in Mathare slum for 5 years, I am 26 years old. I have 1 kid (a girl of 7 months). My dream is to be a manager once for a life-time at one company. Before coming to the Ushirika, I was a girl.

Love is God.

Brian Bera

Brian Bera

I am a teacher at the Ushirika. I used to work as a quality controller at a factory. I do not live in Mathare slum, I live in Komarock, a district of Nairobi. I have my own sewing workshop.  I am also a personal trainer at a gym.


Mary Mueni

I’ve lived in Mathare slum for 2 years, I am 34 and have 2 kids (a 6-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl). I was a housewife before coming to the Ushirika. I’ve dreamed to be a tailor since my childhood and I am beginning to achieve it.

Love is caring for each other.


Ann Mwikali

I’ve live 3.5 years in Mathare, I am 20 years old. I was a housewife before coming to the Ushirika. My dream is to become a very good tailor.

Love is having the same feeling towards another as you have towards yourself.


Millicent Ochieng

I’ve lived 7 years in Mathare slum, I am 26 years old and have 2 kids (a boy of 3.7 years & a girl of 2.5 years). I was a shopkeeper before coming to the Ushirika. My dream is to be a garment maker.

Love is type of action that one does to another.


Susan Odhiambo

I’ve lived in Mathare slum for 6 years, I am 26 years old. I have 1 kid (a girl). Before coming to the Ushirika, I was a cleaner. My dream is to be self-employed.

Love is one’s behaviour towards another.


Rose Onyango

I work as a teacher at the Ushirika. I’ve lived in Mathare for 13 years, I am 29. I have 3 kids (a boy of 17 years, a girl who is 15, and a girl who is 11). I have also my own tailor workshop at Mathare slum. My dream is to be able to properly educate my kids.

Love is welcoming a person in your heart.


Maureen Otieno

I’ve lived in Mathare slum for 5 years. I am 24 years old and have 2 kids (a boy of 2 years & a 4 year-old girl). I used to be a house-girl before joining the Ushirika. If I get the chance, I will start a kindergarten for small kids and educate my siblings, who are back in the countryside. 

My dream is educated my kids for them to have a life that I didn't have but more is I would like to help the helpess children with founding an institution.

Love is a variety of different emotional and mental state, love is helping one another, also love is connection of two hearts yours and mine.


Alicja Wysocka

Alicja Wysocka

I've been coming to Mathare slum for the past two years. From the very beginning, my dream was to come here for longer, to work with the local community. This is how the Coopearative Spółdzielnia Ushirika was created.

George Otieno

George Otieno

I’ve live in Mathare slum for 12 years, I have been making shoes for 10 years now. I inherited the skill from my grandfather, who was a shoemaker. My dream is to own a company in Mathare slum so as to engage a lot of young people who are jobless to acquire new skills, thus creating job opportunity in the slum.


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