Maasai are best known for their beautiful beadwork which plays an essential element in the culture's ornamentation of the body where beading patterns are determined according to age and social standing.
Shared Interest are supporting them in their journey to bring their beadwork to customers around the world.
Namayiana means blessed in the Maasai language and was chosen as a fitting name by this all women group of handcraft producers based in the Ngong area of Kenya.
The group is the amalgamation of two smaller groups that were founded in the mid-1980s. For the most part, the women could not read or write, but wished to use the skills and abilities they had to care for their children and the community around them.
Before Namayiana existed there was no real role for women in the local community. Now they are able to provide an income for their families, paying for their children's education, as well as food, clothing and other household items. The income earned from the sale of their beaded goods means that many women have been able to secure alternative income streams through the purchase of poultry and irrigation systems which helps to ensure long term financial sustainability for these families.
Namayiana has two project managers, one to represent each of the original groups. Catherine and Leah have successfully managed to explore and find new buyers and markets. There is also an executive committee made up of 16 women, eight from each group and an advisory group of ten men, who provide an advisory and supporting role.
Namayiana has worked with Shared Interest since 2009 and uses its loan facility to pre finance their orders. Products include bags, baskets, necklaces, bracelets, belts, coasters and mirrors.
The group has also used Shared Interest loans to enable them to attend the African Days Vienna Exhibition in 2010 and 2011. Attending the conferences has not only increased their sales but also built confidence within the group. Namayiana has received much-needed exposure, learnt about new designs and made new buyer contacts.
Namayiana Project Manager, Catherine Mututua said: "We want to say thank you to the hand that gives. We have received blessings from the labour of our hands and know there will be opportunities for more groups to be blessed through Shared Interest. Looking forward, we hope to continue to grow our group and pass it on to our children."
Catherine continued: "With Shared Interest behind us, we have more courage to work harder and feel we can go far in our business."
Follow the journey of Namayiana in this short film below.