Invaluable Inventions inpiration Jua Kali

For San Franciso-based Kemaal Esmail, the inspiration for Invaluable Inventions came from growing up in Nairobi where entrepreneurs would ask ‘Could I Jua Kali it?’ or ‘Could I make or fix it?’ 

Growing up in Kenya, resources were scarce; it was a closed market economy and we learned to make do with whatever we could. Those tight circumstances led to the spawning of a whole industry of ingenuity known as ‘Jua Kali’. 

Under a fierce sun

‘Jua Kali’ means ‘hot sun’ or ‘fierce sun’ in Kenyan Kiswahili. It has become synonymous with the open marketplaces where enterprising craft people and inventors make use of whatever resources they can find to make products that fill a gap in what can be readily bought.

You might find someone using old bicycle wheels and a washtub to create a wheelbarrow, or using parts from five different broken motors to rebuild one that actually works. The mantra of the Jua Kali sector is to fix, reuse and repurpose anything that is broken or considered junk to solve whatever critical need there may be. 

Unlocking the Jua Kali potential in California

The everyday problems in Kenya could be incredibly aggravating, but the ingenuity I saw in the Jua Kali marketplace inspired me. I’ve come a long way from Nairobi to Mountain View, California and life is certainly a lot easier here. But still we are plagued with frustrating, everyday problems that are just waiting for simple, practical and inexpensive solutions.

I founded my latest company, Invaluable Inventions, with a mission to improve daily life one invention at a time.

Our present-day issues include protecting yourself from identity theft or cyber-fraud and improving our personal health and well-being. One of Invaluable Inventions’ first patents is a privacy-protecting, self-shredding label which helps you eliminate the risk of mail fraud or stolen identity.

Because I am a self-confessed germaphobe, we have a number of products that help keep you healthy and safe, like an innovative progressive bandage, a germ-resistant water bottle cover, or a clever wearable that makes it easier to keep hand-sanitizer accessible.

Fast forward

Invaluable Inventions’ portfolio now includes more than a dozen different product ideas with even more in the pipeline. My dream is that as our company grows, we will be able to give back to communities in the third world where their need for smart solutions to everyday frustrations is significant and challenging.

So what can you do?

I welcome the opportunity to talk with potential customers, partners or investors about how Invaluable Inventions is working to improve daily life, one invention at a time. Connect with me here or on Twitter, Facebook or  LinkedIn