In 2006, through a chance meeting of two women in the small Kilimanjaro airport waiting room - Rossella Rossi (Founder and President of the Italian environmental protection NGO Istituto Oikos and Oikos East Africa), and safari lodge owner Tati Oliver - both deeply troubled by the increasing rate of deforestation and desertification they were witnessing all around them, a clever but very simple idea was born. Logging bans had failed, impossible to implement - yet these Maasai women needed a way to make money to support their families. As the women talked the answer became clear. By combining strengths - the design genius from Italy and the rich beading artisanship of the Maasai - a company could be created offering an alternative work solution. Now instead of logging for charcoal these highly talented women artisans are meticulously handcrafting pieces of wearable art using designs created by students at the Istituto Europea di Design in Milan, led by partner and Director Francesca Soldini.
The development of this alternative micro enterprise now protects the environment, preserves indigenous culture, at the same time creates a stable and sustainable income source for the women.
Now that's a beautiful thing on many levels!