Using the utu-ubuntu model to understand the activities of traders and artisans in Nairobi’s markets, this book explores how, despite being consistently excluded and disadvantaged, they shape urban spaces in and around the city, and contribute to its development as a whole. With immense resilience, and without discarding their own socio-cultural or economic values, informal traders and artisans have created a territorial complex that can be described as the African metropolis.
African Markets and the Utu-buntu Business Model sheds light on the ethics and values that underpin the work of traders and artisans in Nairobi, as well as their resilience and positive impact on urbanisation. This book makes an important contribution to the discourse on urban economics and planning in African cities.
Mary Njeri Kinyanjui is a writer, researcher, teacher and volunteer community organiser. She is a firm believer in social and economic justice and self-reliance. She holds a PhD in Geography from Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge in the UK and is a senior research fellow at the University of Nairobi’s Institute for Development Studies. At the time of writing, she was a visiting associate at the Five College Womens’ Studies Research Center in Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts.
She has researched economic informality and small businesses, with particular focus on the role of grassroots and indigenous institutions, as well as gender, trade justice and peasant organisations, in the organisation of economic behaviour. Her current research is on the positioning of women peasants, artisans and traders in the global economy. Her publications include Women and the Informal Economy in Urban Africa (Zed) and Vyama Institutions of Hope: Ordinary People’s Market Coordination and Society Organization (Nsemia).