Since being in London I have stumbled across some AMAZING places. I have had some truly jaw dropping experiences, and it just gets better and better. Typically these encounters happen when I am simply just minding my business and getting on with my normal day to day.
I do my groceries in Shepherds Bush, West London. I like the feel that I get just walking down the street. The people and vibe make you feel as if you are in the midst of something great and interesting even when you are just going out to do the weeks shopping . For the past few months I’ve gone to W12 Shopping Centre. I go in. I leave out. That is until recently when I felt a pull to explore what was on the other end of the building. My eyes instantly lit up. I’m in love. A shop! A charity “museum” of sorts, filled with fabulous, bright colors and loads of unique, handmade merchandise. A sign, “MAMA BIASHARA” adorned the store front window.
I walk in and I am greeted by smiling faces. I hear a voice coming from the rear of the shop near the register and I see a woman. She’s wearing glasses and she looks like she’s conducting business. Even though there is laughter I can tell there is a passion behind her words. This was Mama Biashara (Business Mother) Kate Copstick herself!
To be honest, when I began this post I thought that it would be comprised of bits of information and photos of all of the great items on display but as I started my research I uncovered and discovered so much more. Not only does Mama Biashara have lovely goods but it also encompasses a few other things that I have a passion for. Community, charity, sexual health and the empowerment of women all based on the vision of one Kate Copstick.
In order to touch on the greatness that is in the shop I had to explore the drive behind the force that created it.
Kate Copstick is a controversial comedic critic, an author, actress and long time contributor/owner of the Exotic Review (a publication that focuses on sexuality an eroticism). She is also what some refer to as a hard core feminist, opinionated and strong. On first glance you would wonder how does one find time to be a champion for Children With Aids Charity here in the UK, conquer many professions and manage to help others abroad. Well, that’s exactly what Kate does.
Kate Copstick travels often to some of the most impoverished areas of Kenya. Through her travels she quickly realized that there was a great need and instead of just simply making a one off donation she decided to put the power back into the hands of the people by assisting them with entrepreneurial endeavors. She meets with women and conducts business workshops. She gives business grants to women that have a desire to start or restart their small businesses. Sounds angelic but Kate is no pushover. She’s tough skinned and has no problem turning away those that are likely to misuse the funds. Her tough stance reflects the motto of Mama Biashara, “A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out.”
With these business grants, Mama Biashara is able to put the power back into the hands of the women that she helps. Just 25 will help start up a business selling vegetables or second hand clothing. That is less than what many of us spend on a night out. Through her travels Kate often keeps a detailed diary of her experiences and uses it as a way to keep family and friends of Mama Biashara up to date.
I was particularly thrilled to know that Mama Biashara works with commercial sex workers in Nairobi to give them other options to support themselves and their families financially. Additionally, many of the women that seek assistance from Mama Biashara are HIV positive but equally as heavy, they are impoverished and looking for other means of survival. Mama Biashara will set them up with other businesses which will bring them one step closer to being free from their vulnerable circumstances. Anyone that knows Cocoa, knows that Sexual Health/HIV Prevention/Education and Advocacy are subjects that are extremely close to my heart having worked in the field for a number of years. Kate also provides information regarding safe sex practices/HIV/STI Prevention.
On her travels to Kenya, Kate takes with her some much needed supplies such as vitamins, supplements, condoms, and medicines to help does that are in need. She brings back merchandise, fabrics, jewelry, shoes, handbags etc. These materials are sold in Mama Biashara’s shop and the money that is made is put back into the community to help fund the grants and many important programs in Kenya.
On my visit to the Mama Biashara shop, I had the fortunate experience of meeting Prudence Maseko, a designer and small business owner that displays her items within the shop. She raved about the philanthropic efforts of Mama Biashara in regards to women in Kenya but she also expressed how thankful she was that Mama Biashara helped her, a woman living right in London. Prudence hand knits her designs (purses, scarves, etc) and displays them in the shop to be sold. In turn she volunteers her time with the charity.
Myself, I couldn’t help but walk away with a renewed drive and inspiration to help others as well as some fabulous one of a kind earrings!
Mama Biashara needs your money! If you would like information about Mama Biashara and how to donate to the cause, please visit http://www.mamabiashara.com/.
Visit the shop at
|Address:||West 12 Shopping Centre
Shepherds Bush Green, Shepherd’s Bush
London, W12 8PP
Here are some lovely shots of just some of the merchandise on display for sale: Scarves, Jewelry, Handbags, Clothing, Fabric, Home Decor…and so much more!