The name “Kibébé” contains two words–“Ki” and “bébé.” The prefix “Ki” as “big” is used as slang by the Kiswahili speakers in the community we work with and “bébé” means “baby” in French. When our artisan community say Kibébé, they mean “big healthy baby” as a compliment. It highlights two important elements of our humble origins. 

First, Kibébé was founded by an intercultural couple–Florisa and Innocent Magambi. Florisa is originally from Italy. Innocent was born a refugee from Burundi. The couple found their common purpose and united in Malawi, where they started There is Hope Malawi in 2007, a charity that aims to empower refugees and local Malawians through vocational training programs and college scholarships. Kibébé stemmed out of There is Hope as its social enterprise branch to directly provide jobs to the people they serve and fund its programs. 

Secondly, Kibébé’s founding product - the Safari book - was inspired by a very special baby, Florisa and Innocent’s first child Mwiza. Born with a rare congenital condition, Mwiza needed sensory toys that were not available in Malawi. Florisa, the loving and creative mother, then worked with a refugee tailor to develop a sensory book that features Safari animals with soft chitenje. Unfortunately, Mwiza passed away after her second birthday. However, her legacy remains as the beautiful line of products that stemmed from that book.

Kibébé’s story is personal, yet universal. It encompasses every family’s dream to nurture healthy babies and provide a good environment for them to grow up in, including families involuntarily displaced in foreign lands. 

Our mission is to economically empower these families to support themselves and create inclusive products that can be enjoyed by anyone from any cultural background. Besides directly providing jobs, Kibébé donates all of its profits to vocational training programs and college scholarships for refugees by There is Hope. 

Since the inception of Kibébé in 2014, our brand has been loved by our local community in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city. To bring Kibébé to its broader international community, a group of skilled and passionate volunteers finally established Kibébé International as a 501c(3) non-profit organization in the US in 2019. 

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