Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Ujamaa Means Cooperative Economics: Nandy del Castillo

Ujamaa grows out of the fundamental concept that social wealth belongs to the communities that created it
Nandy del Castillo (left) and Melisha Jackman (right) created the entrepreneurial series to help parents earn extra income. Photo: Brianna Robles for BK Reader.

On Friday, Dec. 29, people across the African Diaspora celebrate the fourth day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration highlighting different principles bound in traditional African culture. 

Ujamaa means cooperative economics. This principle grows out of the fundamental communal concept that social wealth belongs to the masses who created it, and that no one should have such an unequal amount of wealth that it gives them the capacity to impose exploitative relations on others.

Ujamaa also stresses self-reliance in the building strengthening and controlling of the economics of our own community. The assumption here is that we must seize and maintain the initiative in all that is ours and that we must harness our resources and put them to the best possible use in the service of the community.

Ujamaa is exemplified in the work of Brooklyn resident and parent Nandy del Castillo. When del Castillo became pregnant with her daughter Anna in 2019, she made the hard, bold decision to leave her tech career of 15 years and follow her passion-- making art. But from the beginning del Castillo understood she would need to develop a monetization model for her passion, so she learned marketing and began selling her portrait art on Etsy. She was successful!.

Today, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society,’s Entrepreneurial Series, del Castillow teaches other parents how to follow their dreams while making extra income.

“I want [parents] to see themselves in me," Castillo said. "I want there to be a light switch that says, 'There's no disconnect between you or Bill Gates.'"

In her workshop seminars, topics range from posting content on social media to creating an e-commerce store through platforms like Shopify and Etsy. Castillo also helps parents identify what they’re skilled in and how they can turn a passion project into a scalable business online. 

To learn more about this successful program started by del Castillo and how it exemplifies the principle of cooperative economics, go here.

Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 26, and for the seven days of Kwanzaa, BK Reader will feature a different local resident or organization that exemplifies one of the seven principles!