The Story of the Beads

 

Have you ever seen such joy at work? These women are filled with gratitude for the opportunity to support themselves and their families, and most of them are single mothers. This is what Kazuri beads are all about - "hope from the earth of Africa." And, this is what Kazuri Couture is all abouit - "Lifting Spririts & Uplifting Lives."

LADY SUSAN WOODKazuri beads started small back in 1975, with one enterprising missionary, Lady Susan Wood, teaching a few women in Kenya how to make beads with the hope that selling the beads could be a small source of income for these struggling women. They sold quickly, and Wood realized there were many more women who were in need of jobs. And, so the seed was planted.

The Kazuri (Swahili for small and beautiful) workshop was established just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, on the former coffee plantation of Karen Blixen (of the Out of Africa fame), and in 1988, Kazuri became a large workshop expanding to over 120 women.

In 2000, Mark and Regina Newman assumed the business that today has about 350 employees. Many more women are waiting in the hope of getting the opportunity to join the ranks of those talented people who create these small, beautiful objects. The couple’s mission was to provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of the Kenyan society.

Today, it continues its long and successful journey as a help center for women, especially single mothers, widows, andrn those with special needs. Here women are trained and apply their skills to produce these unique and beautiful beads which are made with the clay from the Mt. Kenya area.

It is equipped with a clinic, providing free medical care for the employees and their immediate families. Kazuri also absorbs 80% of medical bills for treatment received outside the factory clinic. The factory also serves as a social gathering place, offering free medical care, and access to educational programs. One jobholder's wage often provides for an "extended family" of 20 or more.

Kazuri beads are Fair Trade Certified and Kazuri is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).

 

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) believes that trade must benefit the most vulnerable and deliver sustainable livelihoods by developing opportunities especially for small and disadvantaged producers.  Recurring global economic crises and persistent poverty in many countries confirm the demand for a fair and sustainable economy locally and globally. 

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