Among the Samburu, beaded necklaces are used by morans to “book” girls as young as 12 years for marriage, with the ornaments taking on the odious role as instruments of sexual exploitation. But women are changing this negative connotation, a bead at a time, by turning the necklaces into tools of economic and social empowerment.
BeadWORKS partners with established women’s groups in conservancies to help them turn their traditional craft skills into a viable, sustainable business. There are over 1,021 women in nine conservancies now involved in the business, making beaded jewellery, trinkets and accessories. With support from NRT Trading, these products are sold to customers in the USA, UK and Australia and online via the BeadWORKS website.
Pastoralism and bead works are both social and economic activities that the community does effortlessly. In recent years, the community has been able to significantly monetize bead works and the men, who traditionally looked after cattle, have now joined the women in Saccos that help them sell their wares even in international markets.