In celebration of International Women's Day we wanted to feature a selection of our incredibly talented women artisan groups in East Africa, who, without their skills and expertise we would not have any of our diverse basketry products. We are working with three social enterprises in Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, that work to empower and develop the talents of women in the region, encouraging economic independance and business skills.
Our Rwandan artisan partner has an interesting background. They work with women co-operatives - a legally recognized form of association in Rwanda that was promoted by the government after the 1994 genocide. At that time, Rwanda’s population was 70% female and its economy was in shambles. Women were left to rebuild the country, yet most lacked formal education and struggled to gain access to international export markets. By conecting their fabulous creations with our customers, we help these women generate income to support themselves and their families. Our artisan partner provides them with training to build profitable and sustainable businesses for the future. These wonderful ladies make our brightly coloured baskets such as this Orange & Teal Plateau Basket.
TANZANIAN UGWAFU WEAVERS
We are proud to be the only company in the UK to be selling produts made by this incredible Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that works in the post conflict refugee impacted tri-border between Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. They employ more than 300 rural East African women, and train them with business and weaving skills. These women from three countries work towards one common goal, which is to help build unity in a post-conflict region. The project was established by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and continues as a social enterprise that works to empower women and to provide fair trade incomes. These talented women hand weave natural 'ugwafu' grass to make our Tablemats and Trays. The importance of basket weaving has been revived in the area by enabling these women to pass on the tradition to their daughters as an income generating opportunity,
KENYAN BASKET WEAVERS
QÄSA QÄSA has been working with a womens cooperative in rural Kenya to make our eclectic sisal basket range. The womens basket weaving is to supplement their livelihood in an area that is prone to long and unpredictable dry spells and human wildlife conflict due to its proximity to the Tsavo National Park. This group is managed by an environmentalist whose aim is to empower women economically and socially, through entrepreneurial ventures that foster informed natural resource use and management. Each of their baskets uses local sisal and brings together a community who tackle local issues and work together to create a better living for themselves and their families.
We are thankful to and inspired by these amazing artisans who create beautiful products using the materials avaliable from around them. International Women's day is the perfect day to place a spotlight on these women, many of whom have experienced hardships from local politics or from droughts, despite which they continue to carve extraordinary futures for themselves, through hard work, determination and entreprenuership.
Browse our SHOP to see more products made by these artisan groups.