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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Group improving livelihood of members through bead making

By Bob Aston
Ornament making in Kenya has significantly grown over the last few years.  This has been a source of livelihood for many women in Kenya. In Wangwaci area of Laikipia County, a women group called Smart Lady decided to venture into the bead making business in October 2013 and since then the livelihood of most of the members has been improving.
Smart Lady members admiring their work
The group has been using beads to make necklaces, baskets, bangles, earrings and anklets. They have so far sold more than 20 baskets with each going for Ksh 1,500. The price normally rise to Ksh 2,000 when they sell outside Sipili Division. Price of bangles varies between Ksh 200-Ksh 500 depending on design required by a customer.
“We are trying to identify the tastes and preferences of our target market. We strive to make ornaments that appeal to our clients by making them trendy,” said Rahab Wachera, Chairlady Smart Lady.

Rahab believes that this venture has started to economically empower them thus enabling them to become self sufficient and better provide for their families.
Maasai beadwork has been an established craft for a long time in Kenya. Beads can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes, hole configurations and colors. The designs vary depending with the materials and the clients you intend to sell the ornaments.
Rahab said that Lariak Forest Conservation Area Project has supported them with beads and threads in small quantities. They have also provided a trainer who has been teaching the members how to make the beads.
The members have been dedicating part of their day’s activities to weave. They strive to be creative and ensure that they meet expectations of their clients.
Smart Lady members with their beads and baskets
“We are now targeting to make 1,000 baskets, necklaces, earrings and bangles.  We are looking for funds to ensure that we make this a reality,” said Rahab.   
Jecinta Wanjiru who has been training the group on bead work said that she is trying to ensure that the members are creative as this will ensure that they come out with good designs which will satisfy their customers.
“Empowering the women is our primary motivation. I always try to encourage them not to give up but instead to try and come up with nice ornaments,” said Jecinta.
The main challenge the group is facing is difficulty in accessing raw materials for continuing with the business. They have to send someone to Nairobi to buy the beads.Rahab also said that marketing the products is a difficult task for them.
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