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.