Empowering Maasai Communities to self-identify their needs, goals, and aspirations.
The Maa Trust coordinates in house social enterprises: Maa Beadwork and Maa Honey, as well as entrepreneurship training and technical skills training in micro-enterprises through Maa Enterprise.
The Sustainable Livelihoods pillar has significant potential to empower Maasai women and youth whilst supporting them to diversify their household income streams through employment or the development of alternative sustainable livelihoods. This is particularly important in light of Covid-19 which has devastated the tourism industry, upon which the majority of households depend for a significant portion of their income.
The Maa Trust coordinates social enterprises, including Maa Beadwork and Maa Honey, as well as entrepreneurship training through Street Business School, technical skills training through Maa Enterprise and support to utilise income generated to uplift families through eco iko.
The goal of the social enterprises is to: reduce household poverty through income generated from financially self-sustaining social enterprises.
The goal of the livelihood skills training is to: diversify livelihood opportunities for community members through technical and business skills training
Maa Beadwork is the largest social enterprise created by The Maa Trust. We commenced this project 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. Through this initiative, women are now direct beneficiaries and as a result have become wildlife guardians.
The number of women engaged in Maa Beadwork is currently 579 in 19 beading groups across the Maasai Mara.
Beekeeping was one of the Trust’s first community projects but it is adopting a new approach in 2022. Six beekeeping mentors are being up-skilled to support over 90 out-grower beekeepers across the Maasai Mara. Our honey quickly sells out, and we are very excited to offer a market to the new network of beekeepers, providing a high-end market for their delicious pure, organic honey. We are also learning how to make beeswax wraps and other value addition products.
Maa Bricks is the first social enterprise targeting youth in the Mara. It has trained 40 local young men how to make a building using compressed soil bricks. The goal is to provide income generating opportunities and make the construction industry more environmentally sustainable, improve housing conditions, and make quality infrastructure and housing affordable.
Rather than waiting for traditional employment, the Street Business School entrepreneurship programme ignites entrepreneurial potential amongst women and youth to lift themselves out of poverty. The six month training course is open to all, regardless of educational level, and is proving to have a profound impact on profits for graduates.
Maa Enterprise is a skills training programme which identifies in-demand skills and products, and then trains local women and youth how to create an enterprise to address the gap. Demonstration systems are installed at Maa Trust HQ for training on hydroponics, elephant-friendly kitchen gardens, mushroom farming and biogas. New additions in 2022 include soap making and poultry farming.
The focus of the sustainable livelihoods program is not just to generate income, but rather to reduce household poverty. The Maa Trust has undertaken a survey with every member of one of their social enterprises to ask the households directly what their greatest needs and challenges are that can be addressed by income generated.
eco iko is a network of door-to-door sales ladies selling eco products directly to families so that they can utilise their income to address their greatest challenges at home, as well as reducing their household environmental impact.