It is our goal to improve the lives of the people living in south-eastern Kenya in the area between Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park, by nourishing their skills and empowering them to find a creative and environmentally sustainable way to make a living.
Hadithi Crafts Support CBO is an umbrella organisation representing a number of women’s groups which make handicrafts in south-eastern Kenya.
At present time, Hadithi sells the crafts from 40 women’s groups, this way helping to financially empower around 1150 women. These numbers are still growing.
Hadithi plays a supportive role for these women’s groups by helping them to build their capacity, improve the quality of their products, improve sales through joint marketing efforts, and learn business and other important skills to improve their lives overall.
All of the profits from Hadithi sales, as well as any other money received from donations to Hadithi Crafts Support CBO, are used only to offer support to these women’s groups.
Hadithi sales provide an income for people living in a vulnerable ecosystem. So by buying handicrafts, customers are helping to conserve a threatened forest full of wildlife, as well as helping the wonderful and kind people escape poverty in their daily lives in a dry area in south-eastern Kenya.
We believe the benefits created by sales are numerous.
They are reducing the reliance upon farming, which is itself unreliable due to scarcity of rain in this semi-arid area.
They provide an alternative to environmental destruction: an alternative to poaching vulnerable wildlife (elephant, zebra, giraffe…), or cutting down forest for charcoal, timber and farmland.
They offer a way to preserve beautiful traditions like weaving baskets and beading jewellery, by allowing them to evolve alongside modern market economic developments. More than this, it provides a learning platform for younger generations to continue some of the practices of their forebearers.
Most importantly, it gives people the ability to sustain their families. Most if not all the money that ladies receive goes straight to education, health and nutrition for the entire family. The ladies making handicrafts get the practice that leads to skills, satisfaction that leads to self-esteem and encouragement that leads to initiative. A feel of a future…
You should see the pride in these ladies eyes when they realise that they have life in their own hands, that they have their own way to create an income to the family.
There is a long way to go to get this community out of poverty. With the help of our partners we even more feel like we can make a difference:
Wildlife Works, a company who have been in the area for 17 years and are focused on conservation, are creating many jobs in the area (over 300 now). They make substantial money from carbon revenue to flow into the communities for development projects, such as schools and water catchments. Wildlife Works also provides vital logistical support to Hadithi Crafts Support CBO. Standing alongside Wildlife Works, we feel we can make a real difference in this poverty stricken area.
In 2017 and 2018 we have forged some powerful partnerships, helping us to achieve so much more:
Since 2017 we have an amazing partner in Belgium called ‘Solid Crafts’. Not only do they sell our sisal baskets in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, they also contribute a substantial yearly donation to help us to impact more women, and impact all women more. In the first year we have built two group houses and we are currently developing a workshop to train ladies in sisal basket weaving.
In October 2018 we started making beadwork for the ‘Love Is Project’. We are so excited to grow together.
artisans of hadithi
The women behind Hadithi Crafts are very many. We are working on documenting every lady with photos and stories. Its a work in progress! The handicraft producers are 900 now and the number is still growing. Groups are getting bigger, new groups are starting up and skills are being passed on from mothers to daughters... and we hope to keep adding artisans to our groups and to impact more lives and tell you about it. Read more about some of the artisans and their lives in our stories.
Mercy is a true local girl, born and bred in Kasigau and the daughter of one of our Jora basket weavers, Frida Marigo. Mercy is the women group coordinator, often on the road…
“it’s a privilege being a part of Hadithi Crafts as it allows me to empower women. I used to feel like I couldn't do much to help basket weavers like my mum, but now this job allows me to do what I love most... to make a difference in my community.“
Aggy joined the Hadithi team in august 2017. She is our office coordinator. She keeps the office supplied and welcomes visitors in the shop. She keeps the groups supplied with the materials they need to make their crafts. A driving force for everyone.
“My experience in Hadithi helps me because I learn so many things as I work with my colleagues and the women groups. It makes me happy when we see women in the community being able to withstand the challenges they face in their homes.”
Kate came to see us in december 2017 to show us her craftwork: Colourful bottles with twine and threaded flowers. We introduced her into making upcycled yarn jewellery and when we needed another team member we didn’t hesitate to ask her. Kate is the creative soul of our team. When we had a big beadwork order for the Love Is project in October 2019, Kate took her chance and jumped from baskets to beadwork.
“I need to provide for my son and my daughter. Living of my own craft was sometimes difficult, and this full-time employment is reliable and helps me. I love working with my hands. I really enjoy all the beadwork and the finishing. I still make my own crafts too, in my own time.”
Doroth joined our team in March 2019. She is the daughter of Leah Mbalambala, a basket weaver. She is in charge of selection and packing for orders.
“I am so happy with my full time job. Now I can provide for my 2 year old son. I know Basket Quality and I know the women, as my mum is one of them. Next year, want to start a study for a diploma in community development.”
Lore comes from Belgium and travelled to Kenya for the first time in 2009. Two years later, she followed her heart and moved to Maungu, along the Mombasa highway in south-eastern Kenya. Lore has been voted trustee of the Hadithi Crafts Support CBO, to nurture and advise the CBO.
“I’m a biologist, so I thought I would get involved in research projects, but reality showed something else was out here in Kenya for me. A load of beautiful handicrafts made by ladies desperate for an income, but without a market to sell their products. I wanted to see these ladies earning an income from their handicrafts, and see how it also helps in the fight against environmental destruction.'“
A few years later Hadithi is well established and a big alternative source of income for the artisans.