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Women’s groups trained in beadwork for economic development

Over 80 women’s groups across the county have benefited from a five-day Ushanga Initiative capacity-building training on beadwork to enable them to earn a living and hence boost economic development.

Baringo Deputy Governor Felix Maiyo, who was speaking during the close of the training at Pemwai grounds in Baringo Central sub-county, said the initiative was a game changer for the women of Baringo as it has brought together over 200 women from different parts of the county, thus fostering peaceful coexistence.

“I want to laud the president for starting this initiative under the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage, as women from pastoralist communities stand to benefit from the training. I want to urge our women from Tugen, Ilchamus, Turkana, and Pokot communities to champion peace through the Ushanga program,” Eng Maiyo said.

Eng Maiyo said the county government was committed to supporting these women by setting aside funds to sustain them and admonished the women groups to set a limit for the cost of each item to avoid exploitation and get value for their products, as in the past they have fallen prey to middlemen.

He further urged the women to join cooperative societies so as to make savings, adding that the end products would fetch good prices as tourists normally visit the county and that exporting them abroad would boost income for the women to enable them to fend for their families.

The chairlady of the Tiaty East women’s group, Mary Nkaitau, a beneficiary of the training, said the training would assist them in getting alternative sources of income as women and children were mostly affected by insecurity and drought, which left them in a desperate situation.

“We have been trained on making quality beadwork like bracelets, necklaces, bangles, and wall hangings; hence, the skills gained will enable us to have alternative sources of income apart from livestock and beekeeping,” Nkaitau said.

Cynthia Cheboit, the chairlady of the Salawa women’s group in Baringo Central sub-country, thanked the organizers for the training, noting that it would go a long way in securing a better future for their children as they would be able to educate them from the income.

Ushanga Initiative Kenya CEO Dorothy Mashipei said the Ushanga programme was one of the priority programs of the Kenya Kwanza government to advance the bottom-up agenda, as these women from pastoralist communities are talented.

“This is a business like any other, and I want to encourage all that have undergone the training to utilize the skills to earn a decent living. Through this, you can access government funds like the women’s fund and youth funds to boost business,” Mashipei said.

She added that they aim to train more women from pastoralist communities across the country on how to make quality beadwork and promised to source markets abroad to boost income.

The Ushanga Initiative, which was established in 2017, was aimed at creating job opportunities and transforming living standards for pastoralist women through the commercialization of beadwork, which has otherwise been a traditional activity with little economic benefit to the communities.

Through strengthening business and production capacity for women, the Ushanga prototype is tailored to mobilize women into organised cooperative groups, provide infrastructure for production, and facilitate competitive access to local, regional, and international markets through new designs, beading techniques, product finishing, and marketing as a whole.

By Caroline Cherono 

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