The word onyx often calls to mind a smooth and shiny mineral with hidden depths. Kimani Peter‘s ONYX, on the other hand, while not a mineral, also contains multiple layers. Kimani refers to ONYX as a framework rather than a business because he prefers to identify a business as a means to a greater end rather than an end in itself. Throughout his life, the idea for ONYX percolated in his brain until one day around two years ago, Kimani decided to finally bring his creation to light. “[ONYX] is a framework for creating businesses that are sustainable, socially conscious, and focused on black empowerment,” said Kimani. He noted that he initially developed the project to fill a need in his community.

kimani founder of onyx
Kimani Peter. Photograph by Daniel Effah

LOUD is one of the projects Kimani is currently occupied with, which falls under the ONYX framework. He calls it, “A technology first record label.”  Kimani discussed how once the label matures it will help people discover new artists and launch the careers of those musicians. However, beyond LOUD and some new releases that will be forthcoming over the next few months, what Kimani spoke about the most was social justice. Both of his parents instilled in him a respect for humanity that he carries with him to this day.

By educating himself, Kimani found his voice and now he speaks out for a variety of different causes. “I think that I’ve really moved from admiring individuals to admiring movements and whole ideologies,” he mused when asked about his influences. He mentioned Black Lives Matter and black intersectional feminism as two movements that have caught and held his attention over the past few years. “[Those movements] really helped me think about the current state of society and what we can do to improve it,” he said.

As for how entrepreneurs can start on their own journeys to success and social change, Kimani was hesitant to give general advice to those who might follow him. He declared that his experience as an entrepreneur is often the polar opposite of his white counterparts. The discrimination he faces is often unheard of among many of his fellow entrepreneurs. He did have specific advice for young, black entrepreneurs though. “Don’t be afraid to be unapologetically black while you’re being an entrepreneur,” he asserted calmly. While he detailed how in the past he felt pressured to change his clothes, hair, and personality to fit in with what he felt society expects of entrepreneurs, he no longer conforms to those demands. Kimani stated that those societal pressures come from, “[a] very Eurocentric place.”

In the end, Kimani believes that above everything else, entrepreneurs need to work on projects that satisfy not only their bank accounts but their souls too. “I think you need to have a vision in mind that’s greater than money or bettering yourself,” he said. While, he noted that there is nothing wrong with making money or improving oneself, Kimani implied that waiting for something greater is definitely worth it.