Feature Friday

Spice Talks


Yeaaaaaah......it's been a while.

I have been catching up on life & digesting on all that has happened in the last 2 months! From being asked to travel to Nairobi, Kenya to playing to Dubai, I had no idea God had all of this in store for me!

I have to be honest, it has taken me a while to come down from the whirlwind DREAM that I lived back in March. Talk about DREAM. CREATE. LIVE! ?! I didn't see it coming! AHHHH!!!!

Well enough about me & more about Erick Matsanza, Founder of SpiceTalks, the organization I supported while in Kenya. I promise I will give you deets on my trip on a personal/entrepreneur level in the next few days, but for now, I want you to learn more about the amazing organization I had the pleasure to work with after 18 hours in the air. Enjoy! :-)

KR: Kimberly Renay     ST: SpiceTalks

KR: How did the concept of SpiceTalks come about? 

ST: SpiceTalks is freedom to me & its about what I had to go through in my childhood as a last born in the family & wanting to contribute to family issues in my own way. Fortunately I was never given a chance at the family level to express myself. I was silenced by my elder brother by being taken to be a kid. I all the time wished someone gave me an ear even if what I was going to say was irrelevant by virtue of being a kid. This threw me to the backyard as a child. So, I though why not create a platform where individuals can freely express themselves in their creative abilities & how great if they are social change catalysts. SpiceTalks {think TED Talks} is going to be a platform where those who go through Spice Chungu, our leadership incubator, come & share their vision for a better, sustainable & inclusive world through the spoken word and creative arts.

KR: Wow! What a literal interpretation of making our voices heard. I mentioned this before, but our childhood experiences really shape our world. When you realized that this was more than just a concept, what steps did you take to make it a reality? 

ST: There are bold steps of faith I had to take. First, I had to brand the idea so I decided to register Spice Without Borders as an international non-profit. I then shared the idea with so many people, some of whom never believed in it, but that did not deter me from explaining what the idea was all about. My brand was provocative & those who looked at it thought I was in to selling fresh spices right from the farm & could never imagine what a chili had to do with women empowerment. Next, I had to make a call for participants to apply & it was all overwhelming at how many individuals got the attention of the idea. It gave me the confidence to know that the idea had indeed attracted like – minded individuals who recognized that they had something on the inside of them, what I call the inner spice, & really wanted to be part of the platform. I then started sacrificing the little resources I had while at the same time appealing for support from partners who believed in it. So many rejected the idea until the last minute when people & organizations started to come on board. Never loose hope, keep going for determination always creates a way & a defined path to where you want to go as long as you stick to the bigger vision & make the baby steps towards it. Every challenging situation provokes a solution to the mind, just dare to think differently.

KR: In purpose, there is sacrifice! With that sacrifice, you have to have a process & it sounds like you did just that, & look where it got you! WOW! Did you have formal training to build this incubator or was it a passion of yours that you studied & developed? 

ST: This is my passion to help others find hope, strength, & courage through adversity. I did not have any formal training but then I was offered a scholarship at Kanthari International, an institute of social visionaries based in Kerala State, South India where I was mentored by the co-founder, Sabriye Tenberken who believed in my creative ideas & saw the social spice in me. Sabriye always told me of the hidden treasures I had & today, I see the treasures hidden in humanity. I also draw my mentorship from Jessica Mayberry & her partner Stalin K whom I spend quality time with at their organization, Video Volunteers.

KR: So it sounds like you had a real passion & you sought out the right steps to get what you wanted, it's all a part of the journey to success! What was a challenge for you in the process of becoming a non-profit organization? 

ST: The bureaucracy by those at the NGO registration board whereby they only want things to go their way.  I first conceptualized a project dubbed “Spice Chungu”, a 6 month incubator for social change catalysts particularly women from the backyards of society. I expected to register the organization as such but then I was denied because of the name “Chungu” with no apparent reason given. Since in Kenya we do not consider chili as a favourable spice despite its medicinal values, we consider a chili to be “Chungu” Swahili for “bitter”. I then opted for the name Spice Without Borders {SwB}  & Spice Chungu becoming it’s project & retaining a red chili as its identity.

To me a red chili is spicy & whether boiled or not, it never loses its taste, a symbol of the inner uniqueness of each individual irrespective of their different abilities or challenges in their life. The organization supports individuals particularly women, men are welcome, who nurture the spice while catalyzing social change through their creative abilities. The organization is devoted to transforming society by the creative & critical voice of the people.

KR: The concept of SpiceTalks is amazing. The things that promote change are typically the things that create a bad tad in our mouth, & SpiceTalks stands for that critical change. As a man in a society where being different is not always easy, how were you able to stick with the concept of SpiceTalks & get such a great following to support the movement?

ST: My passion for change & guts to challenge the status quo. If anything you are doing comes from the inside, you never loose the zeal no matter what. Do not let people define who you are just tell them who you are so that they can learn, relearn and unlearn on how to perceive you. Always remember passion attracts passion. I have had to face challenges from my fellow men who see me thinking like a woman and I just don’t know how women should think differently from men. We are all equal but only with different roles. But again if am perceived to think like a woman, then I am honoured because women are great thinkers and change makers. I am who I am today because of the great thoughts of a woman. Just imagining. What if the woman was to think like a man? Probably I would not be who I am today. I still face discrimination by my fellow men to date for thinking differently but I understand because it’s the patriarchy which needs to be disrupted.

KR: You just said a mouthful! Tell us a little bit about any upcoming projects you have with SpiceTalks.

ST: SpiceTalks is going to academic institutions & to the grassroots right at the backyard where the social change catalysts we have catalyzed will be mentoring & spreading their spice. We are focusing on women and the girls for we believe in the power of their voice. Breaking the silence & addressing social issues that matter to them most. It’s the most effective way to tell the unheard stories first hand by those who have experienced social ills.

KR: More greateness to come!! Give us a word of advice for those who are looking to change society by developing their business ideas in to a social enterprise

ST: All I can say is that the world today needs social change farmers, and the world needs cultivators of spice but above all, the world needs those who will plant the spice in their backyards. For one to cause change in the society then you have got to be that change yourself then go and scatter the seeds of change right where you want to see that change. You could be part of the problem you are trying to solve and that means you have to overcome it yourself. Always remember you can only experience true growth by empowering others. Make your personal issue everyone’s issue because you are a voice to the voiceless. Focus on impacting the society the rest will follow.

WOW! How could I NOT travel thousands of miles to connect with an organization that TRUELY embodies the passion of developing individuals to change the world through their community? How could I NOT be impacted by such a bold man that encourages nothing BUT change? The DREAM. CREATE. LIVE! spirit is definitely in Kenya!

Want to learn more about SpiceTalks & the incubator? Check them out here:

SpiceTalks Website


I have to tell you, I had an AMAZING time in Nairobi, Kenya, supporting Erick & his organization develop it's incubator participants personal stories. It was an breathtaking experience.

I know you are ready to hear more about the how, what, when & where of everything Kenya, & you will! Be sure to tune in next week! :-)