“The times are urgent, so let us slow down”

– Bayo Akomolafe

Akoma is an invitation to recalibrate our patterns of being.

We strive to integrate Life Principles into everything we do; starting with our own internal patterns and within the initiatives we champion.

Akoma, a GIF with flowers and bees
Adapt to changing conditions
    • Incorporate diversity
    • Maintain integrity through self-renewal
    • Embody resilience through variation, redundancy, and decentralization
Be locally attuned and responsive
    • Leverage cyclic processes
    • Use readily available materials and energy
    • Use feedback loops
    • Cultivate cooperative relationships
Integrate development with growth
    • Self-organize
    • Build from the bottom-up
    • Combine modular and nested components
Evolve to survive
    • Replicate strategies that work
    • Integrate the unexpected
    • Reshuffle information
Be resource efficient (material and energy)
    • Use low energy processes
    • Use multi-functional design
    • Recycle all materials
    • Fit form to function
Use life-friendly chemistry
    • Break down products into benign constituents
    • Build selectively with a small subset
    • Do chemistry in water
Rammed earth project in Cape Town by AsaDuru
Herlu Greeff and horse at Linbro Gardens, Akoma

Horse & Herlu, Linbro Gardens.

Beyond our aim to create beautiful and grounding environments that bring out what is alive in us, we aim to create a culture that promotes the same. We hope to showcase these practices and results, to encourage others to embark on their own journeys of transformation.

A new mode of ownership: steward-ownership

 

 

As we think about the need for a more mutual and inclusive economy, the question of ownership inevitably comes up. The paradigm of shareholder primacy often results in short-term thinking, contributing to significant social and environmental challenges.

Exploring future scenarios poses some interesting questions: how do we ensure the organisation stays true to its purpose? (Even if its purpose is to simply make money in ways that cause no harm.) How could the organisation’s structure itself, demand from everyone involved a long-term commitment to the preservation and independence of its purpose and values?

We are often led to believe there are only two kinds of organisational vehicles for change; the conventional for-profit and non-profit models. Steward-ownership offers a third path. A path that ensures that the profits serve the company’s purpose. A path that ensures that control of the company cannot be bought or inherited, and remains with people, the stewards, who are actively engaged and committed to its mission.

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The following quote from Purpose Economy‘s book on Steward-Ownership explains the concept better than we can:

“Today there is a growing community of companies that are implementing this definition of ownership into their corporate structures. … Some are old companies, like Zeiss, whose foundation ownership has preserved its independence for more than 120 years. Some are new companies, like Sharetribe. Other are large, like Bosch, while others are small, like Ecosia. What they all have in common is a radically different approach to corporate ownership. They have all implemented ownership structures that permanently anchor their values and independence into their legal DNA. Like the Romans, responsibility is passed from one generation of stewards to the next based on their skills and values. Ownership in these organization is viewed as a responsibility. The stewards of a company control the “steering wheel” – the voting rights – of the company. The company is not viewed primarily as a source of personal profit; instead, profits serve as the “seed” for the future, and are largely reinvested rather than privatized. Decisions are never made by absentee owners or foreign investors, but by people who are deeply committed to the company, its mission, its values, its employees, and its consumers.”

A different culture at work: teal management

 

The theory of scientific management, which had a massive influence in the early 1900s, still shapes our approach to work today. Importantly, the theory included certain assumptions on how we as humans relate to our work. It assumed workers will work at the slowest rate possible without being fired, also known as ‘soldiering‘.

It also assumed that workers lack intelligence and thus must be supervised and controlled by motivated and more intelligent supervisors and managers. Does this sound familiar? If it does, it is because these assumptions have gone largely unquestioned, except for a group of organisations that have, under the radar, pioneered a new way of relating to work.

The managerial processes of most corporates are, under the hood, still based on the same fundamental assumptions; that most workers are lazy and stupid, and primarily motivated by money.

Changing the culture begins by changing ourselves and our own ways of doing things. This means reimagining our relationship to work, our relationships with our colleagues, and indeed, our relationship to life.

We believe that if you treat people like mercenaries, they will likely become mercenaries. Treat them like trustworthy stars and they will likely become trustworthy stars.

This requires a leap of faith, and to give each other the benefit of doubt. Our work is where we spend most of our waking hours. If spent well, it can become a powerful catalyst for meaningful relationships and individual and collective change. This requires courage – to do the self-work required. Here are some of the values we hold in high esteem and try to share through our various initiatives.

– Self-management
– Wholeness
– Ownership & Accountability
– Trust & Transparency
– Non-Violent Communication
– Ambition
– Evolutionary Purpose

Our people,

We believe in the power of thoughtful, smart and (com)passionate people who don’t shy away from having skin in the game. We’re a lean, values-driven team that’s determined to show that better is possible.

Zubair Sader, Akoma team

 

Zubair Sader.

Zubair (Zubs) is Akoma’s Zen. He looks for, and often finds, peace in the everyday chaos.

Born and raised in Joburg, he is intrigued by how people interact with space and is inspired by the world – whether it is the context of concrete urban spaces or vast natural ones. He has a background in Architecture and an MBA from Wits where he spent time researching innovation and creativity. He has over a decade of experience in the built environment sector and is inspired to use his knowledge and experience to add substance to economic, social and built environment interventions.

 

Oliver Keisner, Akoma team

 

Oliver ‘Oli’ Keisner.

Oliver is Akoma’s investigator – he gets a bizarre sense of pride (his own words) in understanding and using complicated or obscure worlds of information. He grew up in London, where he studied social anthropology and briefly worked in finance before meeting Mo and Julia and joining AsaDuru 5 years ago. He has also set up a scholarship which supports the secondary education of children in western Uganda. Oliver loves cooking, dancing and making jokes, all of which he is arguably better at than anything he does for Akoma (also his own words).

 

Khulile Kools Mkhabela, Akoma team

 

Khulile Mkhabela.

Khulile (Kools) is our Head of Hospitality and is passionate about creating inclusive spaces that facilitate healing and promote more honest and conscious conversation. She studied English, Public Policy and Administration, and Psychology at the University of Cape Town.

2 years ago, she started her Hospitality Consultancy, MilaSande SA, after more than 12 years in the industry; and would like to see more black female representation and ownership within the hotel space. Kools is a vegan with her nose constantly in a book, plays 4 musical instruments, salsas on the weekend, would sell both her lungs and kidneys (her words) for travel, and is in search of the perfect cappuccino!

 

Mohamed Bedri, Akoma team

 

Mohamed Bedri.

Mohamed (Mo) is our Pathfinder at Akoma and drives strategy as well as rammed earth projects. Born in Sudan and raised in Sweden, he founded AsaDuru 7 years ago to rethink our relationship to the built environment. He’s a former elite athlete (karate), altMBA alumni, and former WEF Global Shaper. Mo is also co-hosting the coming podcast “Hidden Majority” and loves to read, philosophise and play capoeira.

 

Julia Jane Persson, Akoma team

 

Julia Jane Persson.

Julia is our Visual Alchemist at Akoma and protects our family’s brands and visual identities across platforms. Born in Sweden and now based in South Africa, she has always been intrigued by the rhythm, stories, and identities of spaces and how people connect within them. She’s an altMBA alumni, photographer, and a former karate elite athlete. She recently did her first Vipassana 10 days silent retreat (recommend dearly), and loves dancing, thunderstorms, and typefaces.

 

Pedro Montero, Akoma team

 

Pedro Montero Gosalbez.

Pedro is not; he just becomes; and, therefore, he does not so much seek to believe about some-thing, but tries his best to attend with every-one and every-thing he lives with.

Born in Alicante, he has worked as an architect with Francis Kéré, studied as an anthropologist with Tim Ingold, and researched at the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at Northumbria University. From there, he has gone into sustainable business and independent research ranging from agriculture and education, through immunology and epidemiology, to design and construction. Bringing together family, business, and academia, he researches for life and lives for research.

Herlu Greeff, Akoma team

 

Herlu Greeff.

Herlu is one of our Architects at Akoma who’s especially attentive to detail and diligent design. He’s passionate about communities and cultures and explores how people can engage within a diverse, regenerative ecosystem to benefit all forms of life. He finds his inspiration in nature and strives towards a socially just, caring, and kind world.

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