Taita-Taveta County has launched market-days for locally produced sisal baskets to boost women entrepreneurs, promote rural-based cottage industries and create employment opportunities for the residents.
All first Saturdays of every month will be set aside as a market day for the baskets, bead-work, leather products and other artistic works by women and youth.
Governor Granton Samboja said his government will create opportunities for the women to showcase their products and promised to help them promote such items in other counties.
Speaking in Voi Saturday during the launch of the Vidasi Market Day project, the governor added that the county will provide a centrally located place where the goods will be displayed.
Vidasi is a local brand name for the sisal handwoven baskets.
He further said cottage industries will be promoted in the county as part of encouraging skills and talent growth. “These are products that can sustain livelihoods. We will have market days for them and welcome people to come buy them,” he said.
Ms. Hilda Mwabwana, the chair of Taita-Taveta Association of Basket Weavers, said they were expecting a major breakthrough with the county government’s assurance of support.
She disclosed that there was an order for 2,000 baskets that the association was working on. “We are going to make these baskets and deliver them to the buyer,” she said.
Last year in November, Samboja bought four tonnes of sisal material for the women groups to start the weaving industry. He said he did that to give the groups stock of material to jump-start the basketry industry and become self-sufficient.
“Without raw materials, you cannot do anything. That is why I got you the consignment of sisal material,” he said.
He further directed his trade officials to introduce modalities of having the baskets sold on Tuesday and Friday in the towns to increase their market accessibility.
Samboja revealed that already, the county had entered into an agreement with major tourist establishments like Taita Hills and Saltlick for the basket weavers to be allowed to sell their wares to tourists at the facility.
“The hotel will give you a space where you can sell your baskets. We want to give you maximum exposure,” he said.
He gave a personal donation of Sh100,000 as seed capital to the groups and advised them to plough back their sales money to grow their business.
The county has 2, 050 members in 52 groups involved in basket weaving, bead-works and leather-processing. Ten groups of Maa women are engaged in bead-work. Other groups joining the market include cancer-support groups that makes mats from recycled bags.
The County Executive Committee Member for Trade Vumi Ringo said the county will allocate a safe space for the groups to store their wares instead of taking the unsold goods back home at the end of the day.
by Wagema Mwangi