Maasai women turn to bead weaving for livelihoods

The Craft Centre where the women ply their trade. Photo By Nancy Masit,

By Nancy Masit

Maasai women from Nkoilale Women Group in Nkoilale village in Narok South sub-county have turned to bead weaving which has completely turned their lives positively.

Magdalene Ntinka who is the production officer at their craft centre said the group was started in 2005 and has 85 women whose main activity is beadwork and shop operations. They have opened a women’s craft centre to market their products.

Magdalene said that when the women started their project, there was no identified market and they used to sell their items by the roadsides or under trees where they sold at any price and sometimes at very low prices and hence could not earn enough income to cater for their basic needs. When they charged higher prices sometimes the clients declined to buy the item and often demanded an explanation as to why the price was high.

Ntinka added that Nkoilale Community Development Organisation officials then decided to look for a market for them which they found. They found an organization that took the women officially and looked for them someone who was employed by the organisation to train the women and be checking the quality of the beadwork items they were making.

Magdalene said that the women are able to make bracelets, belts, necklaces and decorate Maasai rungus (clubs) using the beads. “The women have benefited greatly from beadworks where they sell items and get money to take their children to school, improving their livelihoods by buying the modern equipment for cooking, for example, cooking gases, buying jiko koa and producing biogas,” she said.

She concluded by saying that they have bought water tanks to harvest water and they also conserve the environment by buying tree seedlings for planting in their homesteads. They also assist their husbands by building modern houses so that they no longer live in manyattas.

She urged the County government of Narok to assist women in opening more women’s craft centres in the entire county so that the women can employ themselves and earn a living from the beadworks.

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