BLANK Table Talk /About me

Introduction

My name is Kimani Peter my pronouns are he/him. I’m a 24 year old student and entrepreneur. My business ideas tend to focus on technology as a disruptive force for social progress. I’ve always had a romantic view of work. I had hard working parents that raised me to believe that hard work = success. After giving that a good shot I realize the systems rigged. 

Started working at 13

The experiences I had in the workplace were terrible. It felt very oppressive, racism in the workplace was much more blatant than anywhere else. That made me realize I wanted something that gave me more agency.

Studied at Carleton for 4 years

I studied industrial design with a minor in business. I wanted to have the ability to create products and the knowledge to take products to market. 

First business at 20 years old

It was nothing grand it was just a summer job in the form of a business where I went door to door to wash people's cars. I wanted to test the waters to see if entrepreneurship was right for me.

In 2014 I started developing ONYX

The goals for ONYX being to create a conglomerate of black owned businesses that generate wealth for black communities by extracting wealth from communities that have and continue to exploit our communities. In other words take black wealth back from white people.

It came from an understanding that entrepreneurship was the answer for avoiding the oppressive nature of traditional employment, but I knew there were more layers to that. As I mentioned earlier, the systems rigged and entrepreneurship wasn't the full answer because its still inside of that system. 

I came to identify the issue of the system as capitalism. From there I had to identify exactly how its flawed in order to develop an approach to business that would allow me to avoid absorbing its values. I wanted to avoid accepting the ways capitalism invites us to think about the world in a very particular way which encourages businesses to replicate oppressive systems against Black people, Indigenous people, the environment etc in their business practises. 

What was difficult was that I wanted to disconnect ONYX from capitalism but use capitalist principles at the same time because ONYX is about flipping that system of capitalism against the people that created it. Eventually my research allowed me to arrive at my methodology for ONYX: 

ONYX is an economic approach to building strong black communities. ONYX creates businesses that are sustainable, socially conscious, and unapologetically black.

ONYX Projects

Next I had to follow through by creating ONYX Projects with that methodology. The first project was BUILD which is a freelance initiative to help black business by providing design consultation. It was intended to be an interim project that I would do while trying to figure out a solid flagship project.

ONYX is LOUD

Eventually I arrived at the idea for the LOUD which would be the project that best exemplifies the ONYX methodology. LOUD is a 'smart' record label that focuses on using technology to erode barriers artist face in entering the music industry. I focused on this business idea because of the history black communities have with music traditions and the fact that many black communities have been exploited by the music industry. I wanted to create a business that challenge those exploitative business practises.

I started that project 2 years ago it's gaining a lot of traction, it got me into publications, 26 Artist want to be LOUD artists, I'm currently working with a developer to develop the first iteration of LOUD. Since I got back to Toronto in the summer I've already met with a ton of people in the industry, such as CBC news anchor Dwight Drummond, Karen Carter from MYSUEM Toronto, and others to form connections and push the project further. 

Conclusion

Through sharing my entrepreneurial journey I’m hoping to share tools for black liberation that take an economic approach and be apart of a dialogue on how to be critical of capitalism while being an entrepreneur.