On the Team: Dr. Meme Kinoti, Professor, Humanitarian, and Storyteller

Kinoti with his sister and brother on his family tea farm in meru county, kenya.

By Amanda Waddell, Writer for Stories Without Borders

Stories Without Borders would like to take a moment to brag.

Brag. Beam. Boast. Any and all ways that you can alliterate it, we’re going to unabashedly shout about the wonderful partnership we’ve developed with esteemed professor and Kenyan native Dr. Meme Kinoti. Dr. Kinoti serves as the Advisory Chair for Stories Without Borders’ The Mouths that Eat from Tea documentary project.

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Kinoti or his work yet, you will soon.

Personally, I was fairly nervous to meet Dr. Kinoti. When Jessica Chance (SWB founder) tells you that someone is remarkable, that we need to highlight this person and their unique, fascinating story, their persona becomes a little intimidating. A quick background summary from Jessica and a quick Google search gave me a small glimpse of who I was going to share a cup of tea with.

I shouldn’t have had such anxiety. An easy conversation, full of insight and laughter, began immediately.

The love and connection that Kinoti has for his home in Kenya was the obvious place to start. It’s what situated him to be introduced to Jessica and SWB. It’s what gave him his sensitivity to the troubled politics and government in Kenya, and the oppression that his family and thousands others are dealing with as a way of life. And it’s what has propelled him into his chosen career and humanitarian endeavors.

“Career” seems like the wrong word for what Dr. Kinoti has created; it’s more of a way of life for him. Since coming to the United States for graduate school he has focused on parts of society that most are leery or unaware of, both in and out of the non-profit sector. Whether trying to elevate gang members in East L.A. or excelling in microfinance to support crumbling infrastructures in Nairobi, he has a clear understanding and respect for the power of information. And as he was working with organizations such as World Vision and NGO, he never lost sight of his goal to affect change in Kenya.

That change Kinoti is affecting has many different layers, but it comes down to information and education. He wants to educate the society that raised him on how they can become less beholden to the government that dictates their livelihood. He believes that through the next generation, viable alternatives to their one forced crop, tea, can become a transformative reality. And why wouldn’t it? Although very humble, Dr. Kinoti is obviously a leader that will not quit until his goals are accomplished.

It’s hard to tell how many lives Kinoti has and will continue to affect. Through teaching Non-Profit Management at Regis University in Denver and actively working in partnership with Stories Without Borders on their documentary, the degrees of education and information that he is disseminating are seemingly endless. Believing in the power of the digital story has allowed him to have a loud, powerful voice that you will want to listen to.

Dr. Kinoti and SWB are working together on fundraising events and screenings for The Mouths That Eat from Tea this fall. Stay tuned for invitations to these events!