OUR
STORY

OUR STORY

We believe music has the power to unlock the potential within every child.
We believe music has the power to unite an entire nation.

MARIMBA JAM was birthed from a desire to bridge the gap of access to quality education in South Africa.

There are huge inequalities that exist in post-apartheid South Africa and one of these is access to quality education. MARIMBA JAM focuses on access to musical education, understanding the enormous psychological and social benefits that go hand-in-hand with the joy of playing in a marimba band.

STARTING AS A COMMUNITY PROJECT

Our founder, Kiara Ramklass, started MARIMBA JAM as a grade 11 student wanting to make an active change to address this inequality in her community.

MARIMBA JAM started as a small community outreach project, facilitated by a phenomenal youth-development organisation called enke: Make Your Mark, who help high school students across South Africa start their very own social initiatives in their communities. The project consisted of a week-long marimba workshop that took place during the school holidays with a group of 10 girls from an under-resourced school, Zimasa Secondary School, in Langa, Cape Town.

In 2012, while Kiara was in matric at Wynberg Girls’ High School, she was awarded the “Amy Biehl Spirit of Youth Award” in recognition of this project.

Since then, MARIMBA JAM has grown to become a dynamic female-driven social enterprise striving to promote nation-building and social cohesion among the youth.

FROM PROJECT TO PART-TIME JOB

In 2014, during her first year at university, both Kiara’s parents lost their jobs at the same time and she started teaching school marimba bands as a part-time job to support herself. At one point, she was teaching up to 15 bands a week while still finding the time to complete a full-time degree.

In 2015,  Kiara realized the need to bring another person on board to help teach the growing number of Marimba bands. Rachel Suttle, a previous student of Kiara’s, shared a similar passion for marimbas and education.

 

THE FIRST MARIMBA JAM FESTIVAL

Together in 2016 they put on the first MARIMBA JAM FESTIVAL at Maynardville Open-Air Theatre to provide a platform where all 100 of their learners could perform. The festival served as a fundraising event so that they could initiate a sustainable outreach program with at least one group of students the following year.  The aim of this program would be to provide weekly marimba band lessons at schools who do not have the means to afford these sorts of activities for their students.

 

THE FIRST SUSTAINABLE OUTREACH GROUP

The following year, the interest amongst schools continued rising, with an additional 100 learners auditioning at the start of 2017, including our very first outreach band from Chris Hani Arts and Culture School in Khayelitsha. This was the first marimba group offered to female students at this school.

We were witnessing something incredible unfolding. At one particular private school, Springfield Convent School, we went from teaching 5 bands to 15 bands in the space of 3 years. That means 120 of their learners have the opportunity to play marimbas. And that’s just at one school.

EVOLVING TO SMALL BUSINESS

In 2018, MARIMBA JAM (PTY) LTD was officially registered as a company. We went on to break the World Record that same year for the title of “Largest Marimba Ensemble” (achieved by 241 females on National Women’s Day).

In 2019, MARIMBA JAM was selected to represent South Africa at the Social Enterprise World Forum, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That same year, MARIMBA JAM was awarded first place in the “Investec Startup School for Entrepreneurs” , and in 2020, was named the “Number 1 Youth-Owned Business” in the Western Cape Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR NPO

Our outreach programme has grown into the newly established NPO, Marimba Jam Cares, as a means to reach greater communities and expand the outreach work and contribution to social development. Marimba Jam Cares NPO was established in March 2019, at the first AGM under the NPO name.

Marimba Jam Cares NPO is built upon the ideology that music can act as a vehicle for social change, following our motto “Finding Harmony in Community”. The objective of our organisation, according to our Constitution, is to provide free music education to underprivileged communities in the form of marimba and/or drumming workshops, as well as use African music to connect the youth of South Africa across the socio-economic barriers that separate them, thereby promoting nation-building amongst the youth. 

Currently, our NPO runs two sustainable and continuing projects: The Rising Stars Program as well as the YOU FOR YOUTH Campaign. Both projects aim to uplift and empower under-resourced communities. Our team also runs various holiday workshops and community events outside of these two projects.

The Rising Stars Program, allows our certified Marimba teachers to offer free tuition to disadvantaged schools in Cape Town, reaching schools such as Wittebome High school, Livingstone High school, Athlone High school, and Chris Hani Secondary school.

FROM BUSINESS TO SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Staying true to our founding ethos, MARIMBA JAM has built a business model that supports the sustainability of our Outreach Programmes, which provide free marimba band classes and workshops to under-resourced schools and at-risk youth. Our profits go towards sustaining this work. The bigger we grow, the more impact we can make.

Our vision to unite the youth and communities through the joy of African Music is rooted at the heart of everything we do at MARIMBA JAM. The profits made from every performance and workshop booking, as well as our school band lessons allow us to continue our community work, and particularly support our Outreach programmes. 

MARIMBA JAM now employs over 20 part-time student teachers who have all passed our specially designed “Teacher Training Course”. At the start of 2020, we were teaching 500 learners across 13 schools in the Western Cape.

 

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