Maa Beadwork is a social enterprise that has been established by The Maa Trust, as a sustainable alternative livelihood to generate income for Maasai women and their families. Beading is the tribal art and talent of Maasai, who have been famed for their adornment for centuries.
Maa Beadwork is our largest income generating programme for women that currently works with 579 ladies.
This social enterprise was established to create sustainable alternative livelihoods for women living around conservancies in the Maasai Mara so that they become direct beneficiaries. 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.
We launched this project in 2013 at the request of Maasai women who felt they were not benefiting from the conservancies, as rent payments largely passed only to men. The ladies wanted to be connected to the tourist market in the Mara, and to camp managers who requested high quality local produce for their shops.
Maa Beadwork has been lovingly guided and nurtured by Resian Letoluo, who is now supported by a dedicated team of fellow Maasai ladies. In 2019 the project expanded to 579 women from 18 villages around Pardamat Conservation area, Olare Motorogi and Naboisho Conservancies. Each of our members 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.
Each lady engaged in the social enterprise is from a different homestead and beadwork group members are selected by the Mama and Mzee Kijiji (mother and father of the village) who are the elected community leaders. Using our criteria, one lady from each homestead is selected. The women need to be good beaders, and priority is given to widows, single mothers, wives of alcoholics, and other women who need a bit of extra help.
Since starting in 2013 with 150 ladies, we grew to 300, then 430, 494 and in 2019 we increased to 579 thanks to support from the Naboisho Conservancy. Our goal is to eventually reach 1000 ladies, but before we add more beaders, our focus is to enable the currently committed ladies to earn a life changing amount of money.
The beautiful handcrafted beadwork items are sold at the Trust HQ outlet and partner camps within the Mara conservancies as well as ethical stores around the world and ranges created in partnership with one of the 10 designers that we are currently working with.
We welcome designers to come and visit us and spend time with the ladies producing their dream creations.
Thanks to the astounding support that Maa Beadwork has received, it is close to reaching break even point. If sales continue at this level during 2020, this will be the first complete year that Maa Beadwork is financially self-sustaining. This is a huge achievement for the Maa Beadwork team.
To learn more, visit www.maabeadwork.com.
By the Numbers
ladies currently engaged.
people (on average) who benefit from the project indirectly per lady.
years for the program to be close to self-sustaining.