Handcrafts and women groups

HANDICRAFT CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETIES AND WOMEN GROUPS

Machakos and Makueni Counties are the home of Kenyan handicrafts. Traditional uses for most handicrafts still remain, but most have been modified to meet the demands of expanded local and international markets. The main handicrafts produced are sisal baskets and wood carvings. Wood carvings are produced by handicraft cooperatives while the baskets are produced by women groups.

The famous Akamba wood carvings have their home in Wamunyu a few kilometers to the east of Machakos town. Wamunyu Handcraft Cooperative Society registered in 1965 is located at the home of the legendary Mutisya Muunge who introduced commercial wood carving in 1918 after learning the craft from the Amakonde of Mozambique where he was part of British army contingent during World War 1. Since then the Akamba wood carving has spread around the world, creating major source of income for up to 90 per cent of the local population at its height.

World renowned sisal baskets known by the Akamba as Syondo, also have their traditional home in Ukambani in which Machakos and Makueni Counties are located. The colorful and stylish sisal baskets are the leading products produced by women groups with their other key products being sisal plates, table mats, hats and floor mats.

Services we offer to handicraft cooperative societies and women groups

Since 1988 the Union’s Export Department has been assisting artisans to market their products both locally and internationally under the World FairTrade Organization. The Union assists with research, education and training in product development and design. This enables them to produce sustainable and environmentally friendly products that meet WFT requirements. The Union also provides other services such as pricing of products, quality control, packaging and labeling, preparing export documents as well as coordinating payment to producers.

Since 2013, women in some of the handicraft groups have undergone training on organizational governance and on financial and business practices that will strengthen their livelihood.

The Union also assists the women groups to acquire raw materials for their sisal baskets. MCU has established demonstration plots for its women groups with a plan to grow 100,000 sisal plants to meet the high demands for the raw materials.

Handicraft Cooperative Societies

Handicraft cooperative societies (HCS) affiliated to the Union that produce wood carvings include:

  • Wamunyu HCS
  • Makindu HCS
  • Mililuni HCS
  • Katangi HCS
  • Ikombe HCS and
  • Mombuni HCS

WOMEN SELF HELP GROUPS

The Union has 26 women self-help groups (SHG) affiliates that produce stylish sisal baskets, sisal plates, table mats, hats and floor mats among others. The affiliates include:

  • Kisesini SHG
  • Kikuthuko SHG
    Women groups display their sisal baskets ‘syondo’
  • Nungani SHG
  • Malambwa SHG
  • Itithini SHG
  • Yatta West SHG
  • Muthei SHG
  • Kavunyu SHG
  • Kyaaka SHG
  • Kithuiani SHG
  • Ikombe SHG
  • Masaani SHG
  • Mekilingi SHG
  • Nzambia SHG
  • Kikuyuni SHG and
  • Kinyaata SHG