This Adventurous Life

A young couple exploring the world…and their 30's

While we are celebrating our lovely anniversary adventure bicycling through vineyards in Napa and Sonoma Counties, we scheduled a unique type of adventure for you to read about from travels in Kenya.  We’ll be back soon with massive quads and good wine.  Hope you enjoy this post!

One of the many great aspects about studying international public service management is traveling to places like Kenya, a land of extremes, and seeing the world through different lenses.  I truly hold onto organizations and some of the people I have met that leave me hopeful of the goodness in the world.  In this post, you will see a few organizations that should definitely be visited if you happen to be stopping in Nairobi.  Such great products and opportunity are being created.

Kazuri is a ceramic goods factory and store that practices socially responsible business and advocates for different worthy causes in Africa.  The factory employs hundreds of women providing a secure and enjoyable environment for producing beautiful jewelry and household goods sold around the world.  The women employees are provided transportation from the informal communities where they reside to the Karen suburb, free childcare, health insurance, and fair wages for their work.  I toured the factory in 2009 and have since encouraged a few friends to visit also.

Here are some of the women at work creating ceramic dish sets.  Having a grandmother that is a ceramics artist still teaching classes at 84 years young, this experience really meant a lot to me.  I wish she could have been there!

Here are hundreds of beads glazed and ready to be fired at very high temperatures, soon to be turned into beautiful jewelry.
Such as this necklace.  You can purchase Kazuri pieces in the U.S. by visiting this website: Kazuri USA  (Photo Credit: Kazuri Beads, LTD.)

I also highly recommend a trip to Kibera Paper.  This is a small organization of women who pair up to turn recycled paper into beautiful, handmade greeting cards.  They collect bags of shredded paper from businesses in Nairobi, turn it into pulp, and design unique images to display on the fronts of cards.  This work helps them to earn a more sustainable living independent of other household incomes.  Some of the women I talked with support their entire family including the costs of school for their children.  

Based in Kibera, one of the largest slums in the world, Kibera Paper is easily accessible to the women from Kibera who work there.  They were very informative teaching us their process and showing us a day in their life at work, which of course included tea time with cookies.  Cayle used these cards as thank you notes sent to places he interviewed with.

Here are a few of us turning the paper into pulp.  I could have spent weeks with these women!

Once the paper is pulped and dyed it is blocked and dried.  All of the materials they use are recycled.  Considering Kenya doesn’t have a formal refuse system, there is much opportunity to “upcycle” materials.  

Look at this pile of rubber and plastic trash!  Most of this washed up on the shores of Kenya’s beautiful Indian Ocean beaches.  Unique-Eco collects this trash and turns it into amazing art, house ware, and jewelry.  If you are in Karen, definitely stop by for a tour of the grounds and to talk with the women artists who consider their workplace a refuge from life in Kibera, where most of them reside.

Flip-flop, I was.  Now I am a beautiful curtain.  Definitely check out the items they have for sale here: Unique-Eco Shop.  The Champali Mirror has my name on it!

Instead of cubicles or small shops, these women get to work on picnic blankets while watching their babies roll playfully in the grass.  (In the foreground of the photo are pieces of material that for whatever reasons can’t be used without degrading quality of product.)  

This was soon to be a fun trivet made out of small pieces of flip flop strung on wire.

Before you travel somewhere, I recommend doing a thorough search of efforts to promote women entrepreneurs and socially responsible businesses.  You will gain a different appreciation for culture, society, and the affects of globalization.  Not to mention, you get a chance to support the handmade creations of artists right at the source.

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One Response to “Women Entrepreneurs and Socially responsible businesses in Kenya”

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