The National Government is working on modalities to ensure Kenya’s Ushanga Initiative products hit the international markets in the next one year.
Ushanga Kenya Initiative National Coordinator, Dorothy Mashipei, said the government is putting structures in place to ensure that beadworks from seven targeted counties of Samburu, Kajiado, Narok, West Pokot, Turkana, Baringo and Marsabit where the project is implemented attract foreign markets.
Mashipei said the Ministry of Culture is currently training over 3,500 women countrywide to the level of master-beaders in order to tap their exceptional skills and craft works, which will see most of their products getting traded globally in some of the fashion capitals like Paris, New York, Tokyo, Milan, Toronto and Johannesburg.
“Because women from the targeted seven pastoralist counties are the custodians of this beautiful culture, we are pushing to have their products marketed not only locally but internationally,” she affirmed.
The beadwork programmes coordinator was speaking at Lelian ECDE College in Pemwai, Baringo Central, during a closing ceremony of over 150 women drawn from Baringo Central and Baringo North Sub-Counties who were trained on bead works.
Mashipei stated that the government has procured enough tools and beads, which will be distributed in Ushanga cooperative societies across the seven pastoral counties in order for the women to produce more artistic works.
She revealed that the National Government was also seeking technology transfer from other developed countries to ensure that beads are manufactured locally at an affordable cost to ensure continuity of the initiative which is a direct enhancer of the Big Four agenda.
Deputy Governor, Jacob Chepkwony, who graced the occasion welcomed the program which is targeting more than 450 beneficiaries in Baringo, saying the county administration has teamed up with the National Government and other development partners to ensure that the program is well financed so that women can engage in beadwork easily.
He challenged the beneficiaries from different cooperatives across the county to embrace the program by carrying out knowledge transfer to their children to ensure resource sustainability.
Baringo CEC for Culture, Dr David Sergon, said his department targets to make Ushanga initiative a full-time job, where women can reap from the significant economic benefits and sustainable livelihoods.
Dr Sergon pointed out that due to constraints of resources, the department has only managed to organize a few workshops for beneficiaries, but they intend to upscale budgetary allocation during subsequent years in order to aid the promotion of exhibitions of products as well as establishment of several production shades where women can engage in beadwork.
By Benson Kelio and Joshua Kibet