We undertook 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 2016 the project expanded to include 494 women from 17 villages around Olare Motorogi and Naboisho Conservancies. Each of our members is from a different homestead (‘boma’) and represents, on average, 19 people who benefit from the project indirectly, thus increasing the impact of Maa Beadwork from 494 women to over 9000 people.
Maa Beadwork is our largest income generating programme for women that currently works with 556 ladies.
Each lady is from a different homestead (which is an average of 19 people) and are selected for the project by the Mama and Mzee Kijiji (mother and father of the village) who are the lowest level of elected leaders.
Using our criteria, one lady from each homestead is selected. The women need to be good beaders, and we give priority to widows, single mothers, wives of alcoholics and those 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. 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 livechanging amount of money.
Maa Beadwork social enterprise was established to create sustainable alternative livelihoods for women living around conservancies in the Maasai Mara so that they become direct beneficiaries and wildlife guardians. 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.
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.