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I&M Bank Foundation Partners with The Maa Trust to Support Maa Beadwork Women

We are delighted that I&M Bank Foundation has formed a new partnership with The Maa Trust and donated Kshs.1M to support Maa Beadwork. We are very grateful for this timely partnership given the challenging year that 2020 has been, especially for Maa Beadwork.

The money is intended to support Maa Beadwork social enterprise which engages 579 Maasai women in an environmentally sustainable livelihood. Maa Beadwork aims to: diversify and increase household income streams lifting families out of poverty; contribute towards the reduction of gender inequality through women’s empowerment; reduce household environmental impacts, and; improve perceptions of conservation and wildlife.

Maa Beadwork women

Maa Beadwork upskills 579 Maasai women in their traditional handicraft – beadwork – and develops markets for the beaded products. Maa Beadwork purchases all raw materials, then a Maa Beadwork staff member takes the required materials and product cards to the villages where they meet with a beading group (comprised of 20-40 women), and the work is distributed. The artisans are paid a pre-agreed price for the beading of each item, which is determined by the amount of time required. This piecemeal payment system is based on a daily rate of KES 500 / USD 5. When the beaded products are returned to the Maa Beadwork offices, the item is finished and labeled. The ladies are paid for their work systematically, regardless of whether the item that they produced has already been sold or not.

Maa Beadwork has been greatly affected by COVID 19. The main market for beadwork in the Maasai Mara is the tourism industry; because of the drastic decline in visitor numbers, sales are 74% down in 2020 as compared to 2019. In March we made the difficult decision to close The Maa Trust. This decision was made for the safety of our team, and to adhere to government regulations enacted to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Kenya. The closure of The Maa Trust meant that the women engaged in Maa Beadwork and the other social enterprises were no longer getting any work or income, exacerbating deepening household poverty.

The Maa Trust food distribution

During this lockdown period, we distributed $19,500 worth of food to the members of Maa Beadwork and our other social enterprises. During this food distribution exercise, the women kept asking us when they can return to work. In June, Maa Beadwork resumed production. As our main beadwork market, tourism, has been decimated by the virus, we had very few orders to be released for the ladies to make. We, therefore, launched a fundraising appeal to get the ladies back to work creating a stockpile for Maa Beadwork so that rather than having to make each order when it is placed, orders can be released quickly, and we can make sure that our shop is always fully stocked. Through this initial fundraising appeal, we were able to raise $17,000.

The money raised through the first appeal is now exhausted, and so we are very grateful to I&M Bank Foundation, who under its Economic Empowerment pillar, gave a Kshs.1M donation. This cash injection will help us to:

  1. Develop the institutional capacity and marketing strategy for Maa Beadwork

  2. Expand product range and stock availability

  3. Facilitate Maa Beadwork members to utilize their income effectively through the Sustainable Spending programme

  4. Coordinate capacity building for Maa Beadwork members

We remain grateful to all our partners, and special thanks go to, Tusk, and Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) who have supported Maa Beadwork during this turbulent year.


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