On a recent visit to Kenya, Africa, it was impossible to ignore the poverty and hardship experienced by the Kenyan people. Women in particular bear the brunt of this hardship, as opportunities for earning a living are few and their rights in society are limited. Visiting the Kazuri Bead Factory was an inspirational and motivating experience, proving there is hope for even the poorest and most repressed within developing societies around the globe.
Forty percent of households in Kenya are run solely by women, yet only 29 percent of those earning a formal wage are female. This disparity leads to extreme poverty as women are forced to work in the informal sector where wages are low, hours are long, and government support is non-existent. The Kazuri Bead Factory in the town of Karen is one of many enterprises designed and operated to provide a better life for Kenyan women, most of whom are single moms who solely support their households.
About the Kazuri Bead Factory
In Swahili, “kazuri” means “small and beautiful.” This name is appropriate both for the beads that are produced here, as well as the women who make them. The Kazuri Bead Factory was established in 1975 to “provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of Kenyan society.”
Kazuri employs nearly 400 people, most of whom are single mothers. In addition to offering gainful employment, Kazuri has an on-site clinic which provides free medical care to employees and their immediate families. It also pays for 80 percent of medical costs incurred outside of their own facility.
Immediately upon exiting your vehicle you will be greeted by a score of curious colobus monkeys who make the factory grounds their home. They bound from tree to tree, scurry across the roofs of factory buildings and help set the tone for a fun and enlightening experience.
An English-speaking tour guide will escort you through the buildings, explaining each step of the bead (and pottery) making process. You’ll see the beads being formed by hand from wet clay, hanging to dry, being hand-painted, and finally, being assembled into exquisite, one-of-a-kind jewelry items.
You’ll have the opportunity to stop along the way and speak to the workers – many of whom speak English – and take pictures of each step of the process. The workers are friendly and accommodating and the atmosphere is informal and inviting.
Finally, you’ll visit the factory’s retail store where you can browse through thousands of unique finished jewelry and pottery masterpieces.
Hours of Operation – Contact in advance for current operating hours.
Tour Cost – Free
Time Needed – 1-1/2 to 2 hours for complete tour and shopping
Phone – Tel: +254 20 2328905; Mobile: +254 720 953298
E-mail – email@example.com
Address – Mbagathi Ridge, Karen Nairobi