Teach a woman to bead...

The process of transforming traditional women beaders from makers of personal jewellery to beading at a professional standard for economic gain has not been easy.

Production assistant Agnes Lekoomet said when they started the project in 2014, the women needed training.

“We had to teach them and it was hard work. When they discovered that they could make a living from it, they took a keen interest in the work. Now, they have become proficient and are teaching others. They know the right colour combinations and sizes of the ornaments.”

Read More

BeadWORKS - Supporting Women, Wildlife, Communities & Conservation

BeadWORKS partners with established women’s groups in conservancies to help them turn their traditional craft skills into a viable, sustainable business. There are over 1,021 women in nine conservancies now involved in the business, making beaded jewellery, trinkets and accessories. With support from NRT Trading, these products are sold to customers in the USA, UK and Australia and online via the BeadWORKS website

Beads Turn Kenyan Women Into Entrepreneurs—and Conservationists

As a member of the Samburu tribe, 30-year-old Nalan’gu Lokoloto is expected to remain at her home in Kalama Conservancy—for days and sometimes weeks—while her husband is out tending to the family’s livestock. She has never attended formal school.

In 2016, things turned around for her. “I found out people around the world like our beautiful, traditional jewelry, which I learned to make over the years,” said Lokoloto.

In the past, Lokoloto and other women in her community often earned money by stripping local trees to make and sell charcoal or by brewing illicit alcohol. These activities are damaging both to the local environment and the community.

Kalama, established in 2002 and located in Isiolo County, is one of 35 community conservancies across northern and coastal Kenya supported by USAID and local conservation organization Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT). Created in 2004 with USAID support, NRT works to develop resilient conservancies that secure peace and conserve natural resources.

Women Entrepreneurs Take On Gender Stereotypes in North Kenya

BeadWORKS was the first NRT Trading business to be established, and has used the conservancy structure both as a catalyst for women-focused enterprise, and as leverage when approaching investors and business partners. Women are increasingly represented on the conservancy boards, and women’s enterprise groups are now enjoying a new legitimacy, giving them, often for the first time, a voice in their community.