Empowering Maasai Communities to self-identify their needs, goals, and aspirations.
All of the projects facilitated by The Maa Trust undertake research-based development. Our team travels door-to-door and holds countless meetings with communities to assess the needs and wishes of local Maasai people, how they feel about conservation and conservancies, and how community benefits accruing from ecotourism in their world-famous ecosystem can be increased.
What are the ladies’ greatest challenges in their homesteads? Which chores do they spend most of their time doing that prevents them from being economically productive? What could they save for to make the most meaningful improvement to their home, family and prospects? The most common responses included:
Maa Beadwork and Maa Honey social enterprises provide vital incomes for Maasai women. Socio-economic development empowers women and helps them to save for essential items and participate in micro-credit programs.
Maa Beadwork is the largest social enterprise created by The Maa Trust. 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. Through this initiative, women are now direct beneficiaries and as a result have become wildlife guardians.
In 2019, the number of women engaged in Maa Beadwork increased to 579.
Beekeeping was one of the Trust’s first community projects. 105 women in three women’s groups are currently engaged in Maa Honey social enterprise. Our harvests quickly sell out, and we are very excited to expand this project to include Maasai youth and increase the number of beehives. Everyone looks forward to the next wild blossom to bloom across the Mara so that the hives will fill again with delicious, organic Maa Honey. In 2019, 100kg of honey was harvested and sold.
Maa Bricks is the first social enterprise targeting youth in the Mara. The goal is to provide training and job opportunities for young people, make the construction industry more environmentally sustainable, improve housing conditions, and make quality infrastructure and housing affordable.
The Maa Bricks team have just produced 110,000 bricks in preparation for the construction of The Maa Trust’s Vocational Training Centre and staff housing.
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.
In 2019, The Maa Trust sold 56 water tanks and 4 Mkopa solar systems through the sustainable spending programme. These purchases improve the quality of life for families, reduce poverty, ease the chores to be undertaken by women which frees up time in which they can be economically productive and also reduces their household environmental impact.