In 2006, the Enyuata Women’s Collaborative began as a small group of Maasai women who wanted to improve the lives of their families. Today the women primarily create and sell vibrant and intricately beaded Maasai jewelry and often meet with Thomson Safaris guests near the Enashiva Nature Refuge.
We chose Enyuata for one of our first projects near Enashiva. As supporting women’s empowerment is integral to FoTZC’s mission, we helped the Maasai women establish a small maize-grinding business. In 2008, Thomson Safaris and a guest donated a maize-grinding machine to the group. With FoTZC support, the women finished building a proper facility for the machine and have fully set up their business. In late 2011, the FoTZC board learned that the women plan to use the money earned from the maize milling business to purchase five baby bulls, which they will raise and sell at a profit.
One of the things the women requested was for FoTZC to build a store where a few women could be in charge of selling crafts. This would enable women to leave their crafts in a safe place and ensure that they would be available to tourists whether the woman was able to meet with the tourist groups or not. Currently, any woman who wants to sell her wares has to walk with all of her crafts to the site that tourists visit and then carry everything home again, sometimes as far as 20km. Additionally, over the next year, we are funding a beading and business seminar to help these women improve their skills in both of these areas, which will enable them to sell more jewelry and maximize their business. We funded a similar effort in 2011, and the improvements, particularly in beading, were very apparent. Progress can be slow, particularly with more advanced business concepts, as many of these women have had no formal schooling, but they are eager to learn and are excited for this new opportunity.