By Obegi Malack
The ongoing drought in Kajiado County has seen loss of livestock, the deaths of the animals has snatched many pastoralists their financial muscle.
Rural Women Network (RWN)has now come up with beadwork as one of the alternative sources of income for the pastoralists.
On Friday, they trained Maasai grassroot women on beadwork as alternative source of livelihood to the women and their families.
RWN executive director Pauline Kariuki said the women were taken through leadership roles and how to operate the beadwork business. The project is funded by Fair for All through Huairou Commission.
“We want to position them in the value chain from the input supply to marketing to have a say in what happens to their businesses,” she said.
Kariuki who is also a community development and social worker expert said that the women have middlemen who control the business and they do not gain. The women have challenges of record keeping and calculated on how much they make.
Charles Mbuthia an expert in Organizational Development and Institutional Development (ID/OS) said the women who are in groups should take leadership of groups seriously and keep records.
He said in their group they should involve committed members, write business plans, engage the government, market their products online and they will witness tremendous growth of the businesses.
RWN work towards increasing productivity, enhance livelihoods, promote climate smart agriculture and mitigate food, nutrition and economic.
The network’s aim is to strengthen the participation of grassroots women smallholder farmers in local, national and global debates on food and agriculture and to better understand global policy frameworks which impact on them.
Lucy Lemashisha who is a community leader and beneficiary of the training said the drought has led to loss of income, she said the group has been doing beadwork locally and selling during community ceremonies she said the training opened up their mind and they can now start selling online to capture global market.
The community is also faced with wildlife attacks, wildlife especially elephants raid their farms and destroy crops.
She urged the national and county government to support them in expanding their businesses and getting them ready markets and to move the animals out of their settlements.
Samuel ole Sekento quality control officer Ushanga Kenya Initiative said they have been able to support a number of women in beadwork and marketing their products
He however challenged the women to take advantage of global trends when coming up with beads, he said when they get orders, they sometimes do not get the items that buyers need.
“Women should focus on finishing their products, we try to finish them and waste a lot of time trying to fix them,” he said. He added that the market is ready but focus should be more on new trends.
Ann Nashipai Deputy Director Cultural Tourism and Wildlife Kajiado County Government and in charge of Ushanga said they have held several training and beadwork is now alternative source of livelihood.
They train them to meet the market standards, several women benefited from Dubai expo, where they sold their items and learned.
The Ushanga Initiative in conjunction with county govt is coming up with an USSD code to support them in marketing their products, there will be a website to display the products. The groups selling the products will be reached directly through the code.