MAASAI RIENTA WOMEN’S SELF HELP GROUP – ESCAPING POVERTY THROUGH TOURISM
(Posted 23rd August 2016)
This cooperative initiative is geared towards safeguarding the Maasai traditional handicraft skills as well as empowering Maasai women, in particular but not only single mothers and widow Maasai women, around Mararienda village, Mara North Conservancy, Kenya.
The income generating activities pursued here are beading and beehives. The supporters of the initiative, among them Tina Frisk, General Manager of the KAren Blixen Camp, encourage young Masai daughters to join their mothers in the workshop in order to acquire their beading and beekeeping skills.
All women in the group are offered language training twice a week at the Hospitality School. The project also aims to add additional skills like training on microfinance, HIV/Aids awareness and basic life skills education.
32 Maasai women are part of the bead project as it stands.
The bead project started in mid 2015 when the 32 women established the Mararienda Selfhelp Group – a Community Based Organization. (CBO).
(Nasha, a leading member of the cooperative’s steering committee)
The development of a wider product portfolio of both traditional Maasai jewelry and a mix of Western and Maasai / Fusion jewelry is ongoing. The workshop has opened on the camp grounds and all Karen Blixen Camp guests are offered an Eco Walk where guest stop at the workshop.
A display of Maasai traditional pieces of jewelry has been put in place, clients are given a short talk on the different meanings and uses of the items before being introduced to the story on how the project works.
The beehives are also visited and the honey is supplied to the Karen Blixen Camp restaurant. All products made by the ‘mamas‘ are being sold in the shop according to fair trade principles. Each product is labelled with the producer’s name and the ‘mama‘ keeps 65% of the selling price while 35 % is used for administration and material costs.
Below is a link to a short video clip which demonstrates what goes on in the workshop and how the women and their daughters work hand in hand to improve their livelihood, courtesy of the tourists who come to the Masai Mara and support them by buying their merchandise.