Tucked away in Lodwar, the largest town in north-western Kenya is Turkana Women Handcraft Group. A group of extraordinary and talented women who have faced enormous challenges and difficulties living in a rural, semi-arid part of Africa, away from the hustle of major cities and towns. The group was established in 1992 when the skilled women saw the need to empower each other by coming together to weave and sell products made of palm leaves. The weaving skill, passed on from generation to generation has been perfected over years of practice. Collected palm leaves are dyed using natural dyes and commercial dyes to achieve vibrant colors. The palm leaves are then intricately woven and finished. The handwoven products are laundry baskets, doormats, coasters, table mats, shopping baskets and lampshades. This Women’s Group has about 70 members of ages eighteen years and above. They have the capacity to work and complete orders from Kenya and around the world. Making of these woven products has enabled the women to improve their standard of living, educate their children and eradicate poverty. Crafts With Meaning has collaborated with the group by providing access to information, market and comply with buyers’ requirements. Crafts With Meaning advise on the quality of the raw materials, designs and styles in trend, fair working practices, creative innovations, value addition, quality management, presentation and handle logistics to ensure timely delivery of the products to the buyers. With their products on the Crafts With Meaning e-commerce platform, they plan to offer employment to more talented and underprivileged women especially widows to weave the baskets to meet the increasing product demand and transform their lives. This, in turn, contributes towards the Sustainable Development Goal 8 of decent work and economic growth.
Turkana Women Handcraft Group
The ever increasing youth unemployment has been a crucial issue world over. The coastal town of Malindi has not been an exception. Youths of between ages of 16-25 have been known to hang around public places, liquor dens and along the beach trying to talk tourists into giving them money for “showing them a good time” or act as a guide on their stay in the area. There has been a belief that the tourists will literally pick them up from squalor and automatically change their lives. One man, Bakari Rashid Hamisi saw through this delibitating dependency and established Kiwi Shoemakers in 2010. A shoemaker himself, he needed people to assist him in making sandals that are a big hit in the coastal area with the influx of tourists. He gathered interested young men from the area who apprenticed with him. Now, the group has about 100 shoemakers in busy seasons. They hand-make a variety of men, women and children’s sandals. The sandals are made from locally sourced high quality leather, flat flexible, non-slip rubber sole and decorated with colorful beads. The materials are cut, sewn and stitched by hand. The intricate beadwork is of authentic African designs handcrafted with care. Additional decorations are of shells sustainably hand-collected along the ocean shore. Initially, marketing and sale of Kiwi Shoemakers’ sandals were by word of mouth by locals and tourists. This sustained employment for hundreds of youth in Malindi, transforming their lives and keeping them away from crime. With dwindling tourism, coupled with the competition, sales have plummeted over the years. Crafts With Meaning has collaborated with Kiwi Shoe Makers to promote sustainable social and economic development by providing access to market information and comply with buyers’ requirements. Crafts With Meaning advise and/provide quality raw materials used in making the sandals, advise on the design style in trend, fair working practices, creative innovations, value addition, quality management and presentation and handle logistics to ensure timely delivery of the products to the buyers. Sales through the Crafts With Meaning platform, will enable Kiwi Shoe Makers, employ more youth in Malindi to meet quality and demand as well as improve their living standards and standing in society contributing towards the SDG 8: promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.