Whenever we have visitors to Nairobi I try and take them to a great place called Kazuri Beads.
It’s situated in the suburb of Karen, which for all of the wealthy housing out there, has the narrowest roads. It should take about 20 minutes to get there from our place.
We’ve had Marilyn from the US boarding with us for the past month and one place I did want to take her was Kazuri. The story behind this business and the impact it’s making needs to be told and duplicated. While it’s great to have self help groups here, what Kenya really needs is for greater employment to raise the standard of living.
At Kazuri there are around 340 women and a few men employed. It was started in 1975 by Regina Newman specifically to help single mothers or those from disadvantaged backgrounds. What they have accomplished is quite amazing.
They now produce over five million beads a year that are exported to 20 countries around the world. On top of that they also produce pottery. All made from clay which comes from the Mount Kenya area.
What I did like is that they have embraced Kenyan flavour and are proud of the heritage here. It’s demonstrated in the brightly painted beads and the figurines on the pottery. Everything they do is done at a level of excellence, even through to the packaging.
I’ve never seen their free health clinic but it caters for the staff and their families. It’s a big thing here because healthcare is a huge expense. The owners of Kazuri know that if you look after your staff, your business will thrive.
When you visit Kazuri you get a free guided tour through the factory and then can freely shop onsite without being hassled. I think the prices are pretty good, better than if you bought overseas anyway. They do take credit cards as well as US Dollars and British Pounds.
There’s a whole lot of outlet stalls at the many malls around Nairobi. I like to go to the factory because it gives visitors a bigger picture of why and how the goods are produced. They get to talk to the ladies and see it being made. You feel the heat of the kilns and watch as artists paint the pottery.
Be assured, if you come to visit us in Nairobi, you’ll probably end up going there.
Check out this video on how a plate is shaped.