Maa Beadwork is a social enterprise established by The Maa Trust as a sustainable alternative livelihood to generate income for Maasai women and their families. Beading is a tribal art and talent of Maasai women, who have been famed for their adornment for centuries.
Maa Beadwork is The Maa Trust’s largest social enterprise for women. It is currently training and engaging 579 ladies.
Maa Beadwork was launched in 2013 at the request of Maasai women who felt they were not benefiting from the conservancies, as rent payments are largely passed only to men. The ladies wanted to be connected to the tourist market in the Mara, and to camp managers who seek high quality local produce for their shops.
It was established to create sustainable alternative livelihoods for women living around conservancies in the Maasai Mara so that they become direct beneficiaries of conservation. From the income generated, women are able to improve the lives of their families by providing clean water, install a solar power system to provide lighting for homework and enabling children who previously could not afford to go to school, to start their education.
Maa Beadwork is led by Simaloi Saitoti, who is supported by a dedicated team of nine full time staff. 579 women from 19 villages around Pardamat Conservation area, Olare Motorogi and Naboisho Conservancies are engaged in the social enterprise. Each member is from a different homestead and represents, on average, 19 people who benefit from the project indirectly, thus increasing the impact of Maa Beadwork from 579 women to over 11,000. Before we add any more beaders, our focus is to ensure that the women currently engaged are regularly earning sufficient income to have a positive impact on their lives.
The women engaged in the social enterprise are selected by the Mama and Mzee Kijiji (mother and father of the village) who are the elected community leaders. The Mama and Mzee Kijiji selected one lady from each homestead and the women need to be good beaders. Priority was also given to widows, single mothers, wives of alcoholics, and other women who need a bit of extra help.
The artisans go through a training programme designed by the Maa Beadwork team and are subdivided into skills categories. Our goal is for the ladies to move up one skill category each year through the ongoing training that they receive. Once beaded, items are returned to the HQ where the leather department completes the products ready for sale.
The beautiful handcrafted beadwork items are sold at the Trust HQ outlet and partner camps within the Mara conservancies. Internationally, our products can be bought wholesale through our website and then shipped to ethical stores around the world. We are also working with a variety of designers to transform their ideas and designs into reality. This can be producing complete items (jewelry, homewear, animal accessories, bags etc) or just producing part of an item like a beaded bag strap which is then sent to the designer to be incorporated into the end product. If you are a designer interested in working with the Maa Beadwork team, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Thanks to the astounding support that Maa Beadwork has received, it is close to reaching break even point. Once this point is reached, Maa Beadwork social enterprise will be able to support other community development programmes undertaken by The Maa Trust.
By the Numbers
ladies currently engaged.
indirect beneficiaries, based on 19 people (on average) who benefit from each artisan engaged.
sales income in 2021.