Youth from pastoralist community apply modern business methods to traditional crafts
Hola, a small town located in Kenya's Tana River County, is home to Wata Omara Youth Group . This group produces and sells traditional jewelry made from metal, bone, and horn. The process of smelting metal to make bangles and chains takes a significant amount of time. In the past, the group would seel each piece for less than $1. The Wata Omara tribe, the group responsible for these crafts, are treated as the lowest caste in their traditional society, making it difficult to engage in activities that would yield higher incomes.
USAID’s Kenya Drylands Livestock Development Program brought in a consultant and provided a grant to help the youth group improve the incomes from their traditional business. Helping pastoralist communities to maximize income for all aspects of animal husbandry is an objective of the program. The consultant trained the members on how to properly use the equipment purchased with the grant, and how to ensure the items being produced were of the highest quality.
The group recently took their crafts to Nairobi where they were offered for sale at the launch of the Community Owned Finance Institution at the Intercontinental Hotel. In one evening, the group earned over $360. The group also participated in the Isiolo Pastoralist Week, where their beautiful crafts were showcased and earned recognition.
Abdullahi Barisa, a member of Wata Omara Youth Group, speaks about how his life has drastically changed:
“Before I was trained on the development of these handicrafts, I used to work as a blacksmith and earned less than $1 a day. Now, after training from the consultant, we produce crafts of higher quality and I bring home $20 a day. It’s fantastic!”
Wata Omara Youth Group now has standing orders to produce metal, bone, and horn products for several tourist hotels in Mombasa, Kenya’s renowned tourist coastal town.
Members say the training they received from the consultant will be passed on to future generations of craftsmen.