Acacia Creations was founded in 2007 by Maura Kroh. During her work in refugee camps across Africa, Maura constantly noticed the natural artistic talent of the residents and the beautiful hand-crafted items they produced. At the same time, she also noticed the frustration of artisans with no outlet to sell their crafts and no way to generate income from their work. And so Acacia Creations was founded as a way to connect Kenyan artisans with the global consumer marketplace.
The mission of Acacia Creations has always been to improve lives in a long-lasting and sustainable way. They go beyond fair trade by creating jobs, providing training, and giving back to communities through our education and healthcare initiatives. They work directly with hundreds of artisans at our Nairobi, Kenya studio and across East Africa to improve their skills and product designs.
BeadWORKS aims to empower women and diversify family income in Northern Kenya, reducing reliance on livestock and natural resources. The program is part of Northern Rangelands Trust and partners with established women’s groups in conservancies, training them on bead craftsmanship, product development, and basic marketing and accounting skills. There are over 1,200 women involved in the program.
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) was established in 2004. Its mission is to develop resilient community conservancies which transform people’s lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources. By the end of 2014, there were 33 conservancies under the NRT umbrella, covering over 32,000 km2. These conservancies are managed by democratically elected boards, and are now legally recognized institutions. NRT raises funds for these conservancies, provides advice on how to manage affairs, and facilitates a wide range of training – from governance and security, to wildlife monitoring and peace building. As the number of conservancies grew, so did the need for a more commercial arm of NRT – one that could support conservancies to earn revenue from their own, sustainable activities and reduce reliance on donor funding. NRT Trading was established as a limited company in 2014, and now supports the development of direct commercial revenue to communities in three main areas - livestock, BeadWORKS, and eco tourism.
Craft Link Kenya
Craft Link Kenya operates as a fair trade market access organization. CLK establishes social enterprise centers of excellence across the country. They provide production, marketing and financial training and services to small scale producers, today referred to as micro social entrepreneurs (MSEs), of fair trade hand made products and agriculture produce, to gain access to local and international markets.The enterprise also provides an enabling environment for women and youth to use sustainably sourced organic raw materials in their production. As a linking organization within the Kenya Federation of Alternative Trade, (KEFAT) which has over 150,000 members. Craft Link plays a dual role of poverty alleviation and environmental conservation and currently supports over 4000 artisans across Kenya.
Craft Link is also supported by the independently operated ARTISAN LINK Investment program, aimed at facilitating the end of all malnutrition in Africa. This is accomplished by nations exporting surplus agricultural produce to neighboring countries as well as trade exports to your high street, as has been successfully shown in Malawi within only 4 years.
Jorova Crafts was founded by three women living in the slums of Nairobi: Josephine, Rosemary and Eva - hence the name JOROVA. Jorova has grown to employ several women in the Nairobi slums and has become a primary support for the women and their families. Today Jorova provides employment for several single mothers and widows.
The aim of forming the group was to social-economically empower the local women/housewives who depended on the husbands for everything. They explored ways of how they could achieve this and came up with different ideas. Initially, they cleaned offices to raise funds for their business. They bought a sewing machine and started embroidery work with it – making table clothes, sofa set covers, cushion covers etc. Some Jorova products use Kanga, the traditional Swahili fabric that Kenyan women use and wear for so many things. Josephine says she's also pleased Jorova Crafts is developing unique designs. "To me, the sky is the limit!"
Today Jorova is no longer a housewives’ organization; single mothers, widows and youths have also joined. Currently Jorova Crafts is made up of groups both in the slums and the peri-urban rural areas. The women now craft with beads, fabric, and are talented metalsmiths.
Sasa Designs' beaders are a group of strong and proud deaf women. Long taught to be ashamed of their "disability," they have now been empowered through building a successful business and a community that lifts them up daily. The women have been crafting intricate jewelry for nearly five years. With many single moms in the group, the next generation is going to soar, thanks to consistent wages, access to healthcare, and healthy food.
The Leakey Collection
Founded in 2002 and based in the Rift Valley of Kenya, The Leakey Collection is dedicated to uniting caring communities worldwide with the women in rural East Africa by using commerce as a vehicle. The Leakey Collection is built on several principles: create work opportunity for the Maasai in rural East Africa by using natural, sustainable materials such as contemporary handcrafted fashion accessories, skin care, and lifestyle products; train and educate people in sound business practices in order to enhance their chance for employment, entrepreneurial opportunities and lifelong opportunities; maintain environmental integrity and cultural identity; and invest back into local communities in the form of health benefits, education, and infrastructure.
Designed by Philip and Katy Leakey in the bush country region of Kenya, Zulugrass jewelry was created to provide work opportunities for their Maasai neighbors without adversely impacting the Maasai culture. Native long grasses are harvested one blade at a time, dried, cut to size, then dyed lovely hues. Using a tradition of superlative beadwork dating back generations, Maasai women string the the grass beads together with brilliant Czech crystals, creating attractive jewelry while bringing much needed income and opportunity to themselves, their families, and their community.
A woman who works around 30 hours a week can earn enough to feed her family for a year; after working three months she can also educate her children for a year. The Leakey Collection has been able to create work opportunities for thousands, develop financial independence for women, promote health in rural communities, train midwives and health care workers, improve hygiene and reduce malnutrition, bring clean water to homes, save wetlands, restore natural habitats, provide a better quality of education, mentor young girls to stay in school, build classrooms, hire teachers, assist families in surviving drought, and make a better world.