Jedando Modern Handicrafts

Jedando Modern Handicrafts works with more than 100 individual carvers in Machakos, Kenya and markets their wood and bone products worldwide.  Carving is a tradition in Kenya with the children learning the craft from their parents.  Carving by hand using only rudimentary hand tools, the artisans create beautiful items from olive wood, mahogany, and mpingo, or "African Ebony".  An integral part of Jedando is to educate the craftspeople on the need for reforestation to sustain both the environment and their livelihood for generations to come.



Shanzu Transitional Workshop

Started as a Girl Guide project in Eastern Kenya in 1992, Shanzu Transitional Workshop enables young women with disabilities to gain skills that enable them to become productive and confident members of the community and society. The girls arrive at Shanzu at the age of 17 to start a two year training program. During their stay they learn production skills and tailoring, as well as gain basic business experience and a vast array of other skills. Upon completion of the two-year training, each girl leaves with a tailoring qualification, a sewing machine and personal skills that better equip her for an independent life. Many of the graduates continue to work with Shanzu, producing products for export orders. The girls and graduates are paid a share of the profits when their work is sold to tourists and passers-by and now internationally through fair trade organizations. All of the products carry the distinctive Shanzu patch, not hidden inside but proudly sewn where everyone can see it. 



The main mission of The Teenage Mothers and Girls Association of Kenya is to provide vocational skills to young women, many of whom are unwed mothers who have been ostracized by their family and community, empowering the young women to earn a living wage. Operating out of a new center called the City of Hope in Kisumu, Kenya, the young women choose from job training in tailoring, hairdressing, secretarial skills, craft making, and computers. As a community center, the organization provides an educational forum for HIV/AIDS awareness and other health issues, as well as a clinic, a nursery, and a school. Many of the young women participate in making crafts, earning income to support themselves and their families.




Located near Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city, Bombolulu provides jobs and numerous other benefits including housing, medical aid, and adult education for those who are blind or physically disabled and would have virtually no chance of securing employment in the mainstream labor market.  They employ 150 artisans who create jewelry from recycled materials and other home decor products for both local and export markets.  Artisans at Bombolulu often make twice the basic wage which serves as a motivating tool for quality work.



In 1995, Claytone Ombasyi, a businessman in Nairobi, Kenya started OTIC in order to help local artisans connect with export markets.  He operates his business with the utmosts integrity and expects the same of others, encouraging artisans to consider their products as a reflection of themselves and to use the products to share their vision with customers.  OTIC provides export, packaging and quality control support for a number of small workshops in and around Nairobi.  Depending on their circumstances, these small groups provide a variety of advantages to their artisans.  Some offer training in wood carving, while others provide short-term, no interest loans. 


Venture Imports

Venture works with cooperative groups of soapstone carvers from the Kisii tribe in Kenya.  They believe in empowering the artisans by providing fair wages for their members and marketing opportunities for their products outside of Kenya.  The cooperatives provides loans, product design, development assistance, and advanced payment for their orders.  The cooperative saves 15% of their income to help orphans, widows, handicapped, elderly, and HIV/AIDS victims whether or not they are part of the cooperative themselves.  In this way, the community as a whole benefits as the group continues to look for new and innovative ways to make a positive impacts. 


Swahili Imports

Since 1994, Swahili Imports has been building a network of artisans across Africa.  Swahili's partnerships center on fair and sustainable profit generation, artisan advancement and modern, earth-friendly product development.  The group was developed by Nairobi resident and American citizen Leslie Mittelburg.  She began by selling African market crafts during her trips back to America, calling her company Swahili Imports- after the people of the East African Coast- whose warm, community minded nature inspired her vision.  Leslie now works in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Mali, Ethiopia, Senegal and Burkina Faso.