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Women making maasai beads to be elevated through global training expos

Training the Maa women on E-Commerce to market their ‘Ushanga Initiative’ around the globe remains a major priority to the government, State Department for Culture and Heritage Principal Secretary, Ms. Ummy Mohammed Bashir has said.

Bashir said her ministry will remain committed to help the women to identify, establish and secure markets where they will sell their indigenous and authentic beadwork products locally, regionally and internationally.

She said this will be done through forums like Expos like the Dubai and Brazil Expos among others where the Ushanga women were able to make sales.

“The training will see more women explore a wider market and create global platforms. This will go hand in hand with reviewing policies to create a conducive and work-friendly environment for this initiative to ensure the skills and efforts of our women yield dividends,” she reiterated.

She spoke at Africa Hope Centre in Narok Town during a stakeholder’s forum for Narok County Ushanga Initiative attended by Governor Patrick Ntutu, initiative coordinator Dorothy Mashipae and County Executive Member for co-operative development, tourism and wildlife Johnson Sipitiek.

The PS underscored the government’s commitment to champion for the transformation and empowerment of women from the pastoral communities through social-economic projects and initiatives; Ushanga Initiative being one of them.

Since its launch in 2017, more than 130 cooperatives across the seven counties have been formed and through this economic model, women have developed a sense of financial independence.

The PS revealed that in the first eight months of 2022, the inbound earnings grew to Sh. 167 billion from Sh. 83 billion in the same period in 2021.

This positive growth and quick recovery of the tourism sector from the Covid-19 pandemic offers great opportunities to the women in the bead making sector as there is already existing demand and a vast market.

On his part, Governor Ntutu reiterated his administration’s commitment to work with the National Government to devolve resources to grass root levels. This, he said, will enable the realization of the government’s vision of ‘Bottom-Up’ economic approach as enshrined in the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto.

“This is one of the best models of empowering the low-lying communities and citizens from marginalized and pastoralist communities,” said the governor.

The Ushanga Initiative seeks to transform the traditional ornamental bead-making by women from West Pokot, Samburu, Narok, Kajiado, Marsabit, Baringo and Turkana counties into viable enterprises.

By Ann Salaton

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