Sunday, 11 April 2010

Nairobi: Kazuri bead factory

One of the cool things you can do in Nairobi is to visit the Kazuri bead factory in the suburb of Karen. It was started in 1975 by a white woman, Lady Susan Wood who was trying to assist single mothers in a country that has precious little in terms of social security and support for people in that situation. Today there are nearly 400 women, mostly single mothers, employed in the factory. It produces more than 5 million beads annually and exports to more than 30 countries. You can visit any time between about 8am and 5:30 and you can get a guided tour through the various sections, free of charge. What's great for a photographer is that everyone is happy for you to shoot portraits of the workers and the activities in most of the factory workshops. Some of the women are clearly very shy but the management is smart enough to tell all that work there to pose for shots without objection because that makes the visitors happy. And therefore more likely to spend money once they get to the gift shop! Jewelery is remarkably good and affordable so most of our group did their year's gift and Xmas shopping in one go. Very handy. And of course, anything you buy goes to help support women that would otherwise be a lot worse off financially.

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