Jordanian Startup Kenda Revives the Art of Arabic Calligraphy
Art, in all its forms, is a universal language that manages to evoke certain feelings in the eyes of the beholder. The visual art of calligraphy might be one of the richest forms of artistry, a painting through words and bursting with beauty and history.
When talking about it, we cannot help but focus on Arabic calligraphy, which greatly influenced art styles around the world, and has been a major influence in Europe. With digitalization and all the advancements, we have seen over the years, many have steered away from pens, brushes, and chalks, opting for the keyboard instead.
However, startup Kenda proved that this form of art is not entirely dead. In fact, it has great potential to spread and reach plenty.
What Inspired Kenda?
Kenda co-founders, Abdullah Alghwairi and Momen Alhamed, share common interests, and their love for art and culture happens to be at the forefront. Alhamed, who comes from a family of calligraphers, has always been fond of the creativity and harmony associated with this form of art.
When he met Alghwairi, they both expressed their wish to spread and nurture Arabic culture. As they pondered on the ways to achieve their goal, they thought about calligraphy. "Calligraphy is woven into both art and culture, I believe that the two are intricately connected, where one cannot bloom without the other," expressed Alghwairi.
Following this realization, the two Jordanians decided to create Kenda in 2019, a startup dedicated to spread awareness and knowledge about Arabic culture and its artistic identity.
How Does Kenda Work?
With both a physical and a digital presence, Kenda offers several classes in calligraphy and decoration. According to Alghwairi, “I find art to be an important step in understanding a nation’s culture.” Therefore, Kenda went on to provide classes to school students across Jordan. These classes range from basic to advanced and end up in intermediate projects that create art using 3D printing and CNC machines.
While they targeted private schools first, that did not stop them from reaching out to underprivileged students. “We used a portion of our profit to teach the less fortunate students in Jordan. And we hope to reach a larger number in the future.”
Kenda is currently in the process of releasing live and prerecorded calligraphy classes to be taught during the pandemic. The startup has been in contact with several local artists and experts, and aims to increase creativity, imagination, and innovativeness. It also offers the opportunity to access online tool kits for artists.
Challenges and Achievements
“We had two challenges throughout our journey,” admits Alghwairi, “one of them was securing funds, the other was raising awareness about the subject.” It took the Jordanian startup year before it managed to secure 8,000 JOD as seed funding. Then, it began working on ways to establish its presence.
Kenda successfully participated in various competitions such as Spark Foundation Startup Challenge and the National Forum for Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators 2020, securing first place in both. It also took part in various local university competitions to train university students in the art of calligraphy.
How The Tank helped Kenda Grow?
It is no secret that incubators play an integral role in a startup’s growth. Perhaps one of the main advantages of incubation is the networking opportunities that one is presented with.
“During our time at the Tank, we managed to form strong relationships with several people, irrespective of their background and industry,” recalled Alghwairi. He explained that the mentorship Kenda received, legal and financial, has helped them develop their business model and set a map for future growth.
With plans to scale Kenda and target markets outside the borders of the Kingdom of Jordan, Alghwairi has several plans and ideas in mind. He considers their work as a builder of confidence and empathy, which helps shape an understanding and love towards cultures.
Lastly, Alghwairi encouraged young Jordanians to follow their passions and not be afraid to take risks. “Your passion is an inextinguishable fire. Focus on it, and do everything in your power to keep it alive.”