In the barren and remote Naiborgosso, the local population faces new fundamental challenges on an almost daily basis. With our women's empowerment project, we are not only opening up new possibilities for the community to achieve a sustainable livelihood but also strengthen the position of women within patriarchal family structures.
The Maasai are a pastoral tribe who live off their livestock. Until a few decades ago, financial resources held no meaning for them. But due to steady population growth these circumstances have changed drastically. As the barren land can no longer support enough livestock, per capita livestock number are falling and the Maasai are no longer able to live off their livestock alone. Instead, they are forced to pursue other activities to ensure their survival. However, as opportunities to earn money are scarce, the local population repeatedly faces difficulties in securing food and health care for their families as well as paying for their children's school fees. Women in particular have a hard time to fulfil themselves professionally since they could not attend school or could only do so for a short time and are traditionally responsible for home and children.
Mimuti fetching water
Boy in front of a 'Boma' (House)
Lenkoko herding his sheep
Due to the challenges described above, we launched the women's empowerment project in Naiborgosso. A secure and fairly paid job is offered to the participants where the women work 6 days a week under the guidance of Nema, Nasumbat, Nalamala and Kasino. The salary is based on the number and type of products produced and we ensure that it is calculated in proportion to the skills required and production time. After each completed order, the women receive their salary in cash. How, where and when the products find exited buyers is a matter for the management.
Almost every Maasai woman has a basic set of handicraft skills owing to their cultural traditions. Through our wide range of products, the diverse designs and our high quality standards, the women expand their knowledge and skills under our guidance during daily work.
Since the beginning of our women's project in 2019, the participants have usually been working under a tree or in the shade of a hut sitting on the sandy soil. Wind, dust and rain always affected our work and the tight space in the coordinator's family house made it difficult to cleanly and safely store our materials.
Thanks to the generous support of various people and foundations, we were able to build our long-awaited project house in the summer and autumn of 2021.
With great joy we can now give free rein to our creativity at the new workplace! Many thanks!
What effects does our work have? Where does the money go? And what has changed in the lives of the project participants?
To get to the bottom of these questions, we conducted monitoring interviews in September 2019 and February 2021. The results are touching and impressive at the same time.
«Engoitoi Epuan enables me to provide my children with a better education.»
- Nongishu, widowed project participant
«Before Engoitoi Epuan, my children and I lived from hand to mouth and we never knew if there would be enough food on the plate the next day. Now this has changed completely. Engoitoi Epuan brought us secure food supply and a healthy more balanced diet.»
- Nasumbat, widowed project participant
«Before Engoitoi Epuan, we always had to sell the offspring of our sheep and goats to cover our basic needs. Since I started working for Engoitoi Epuan, we did not have to sell a single single animal.»
- Nalamala, project participant
The evaluation of all interviews showed that the women use their wages as follows:
(see bar chart opposite - click on the picture to enlarge)
Besides these tangible changes, several women have mentioned how Engoitoi Epuan has changed their self-determination and their position in relation to their husband. We are very happy to see more independence after such a short period of time.
«Engoitoi Epuan taught me that I am able to take care of myself and my children. I have become more independent of my husband and stand increasingly more on my own two feet.»
- Nosidan, project participant
The emotions that connect us to our project Engoitoi Epuan are also reflected in the unique handmade works of art. The playful and at the same time elegant bead items are created entirely by hand and with a lot of patience.
Learn more about our assortment of goods here.