About Us

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Mission statement
The mission statement of Ngurunit Basket Weavers Group is to provide income-generating opportunities for pastoralist women in northern Kenya through sales, promotion, and knowledge sharing of its high quality baskets to markets both local and international.

Ngurunit Basket Weavers Group is registered in Kenya as a self-help group and receives ongoing technical and financial support from PEAR Innovations. The group utilizes the Nomadic Baskets brand both domestically and internationally.

PEAR Innovations (Participatory Education, Awareness and Resource Innovations) is registered in Kenya as a Non-Profit Organization. PEAR serves in the capacity of linking organization – it links groups to donors, interested parties, and larger outside forces as a way to bring much needed resources and attention to Samburu County and the people living in the area.

Ngurunit Basket Weavers Group is a group comprised of 230 pastoralist women united to create stable, consistent income for its members, to protect the unique basket weaving styles and processes known to the Samburu & Rendille peoples for generations, to promote the basket weaving craft as an art form, and to bring attention to the lifestyle and needs of pastoralist women in northern Kenya.

PEAR Innovations facilitated the formation of our group in September 2004. This was a follow up step from PEAR selling baskets for Ngurunit women on an individual basis. The group grew out of a need for better coordination of the weavers as the number of women weaving baskets grew from around 10 in 2001 to over 250 by 2004. The basket weaving business has grown rapidly over the ensuing years and has brought attention to the unique woven baskets of the Samburu & Rendille peoples. The group and PEAR both are working to structure the basket weaving group more like a fully functional and autonomous business that is self sustaining and more in tune with the needs of local and international buyers.

PEAR Innovations manager has spent the better part of the last two decades empowering the women of Ngurunit and educating them across a number of social and business disciplines. PEAR worked with women in Ngurunit to introduce camel rearing to the Samburu people. Before this time, the Rendille people were known as camel herders. Working with Heifer International, PEAR began a program whereas camels were bought and distributed to needy families in the area with the stipulation that the firstborn calf would be passed on to the next needy family. This program allowed PEAR to introduce the concept that women could be property owners. Before this program, the men owned the livestock and the women owned the milk. Now, women owned livestock. This was a major change in culture. Now, the women needed to be educated and trained in animal husbandry. They were also they introduced to business concepts. They had camels, but then what? Camels provide a number of advantages perfectly suited for a nomadic lifestyle. They provide milk when no other animal can due to the high temperatures and harsh environment. And the milk has Vitamin C. This is also important for people that cannot grow fruits and vegetables to sustain a healthy diet. Camels also provide meat and hides, and those things can be sold. This project gave PEAR the opportunity to teach women how to read, write, and record numbers necessary for creating commerce.

The project was so successful that PEAR was then able to introduce other income generating activities into the community. A dairy and a meat processing building were constructed along with a honey refinery and a small bakery. These soon became thriving businesses individually, and collectively, they became a huge source of income for group members and the larger Ngurunit community. Each business brought new training and educational opportunities, and these nomadic women were soon learning management, business and marketing concepts. They applied these concepts and began to learn group dynamics, strategizing, and business planning. Each small step added more and more knowledge to the small community, and new ideas were more easily introduced and accepted. The women began to organize into many small village based groups, and then the basket group was formed to bring all the smaller groups together.

Our basket group is also comprised of women from many smaller village based groups. These villages are in about a 25-mile radius around Ngurunit. Each of these smaller groups is engaged in a number of income generating activities such as camel rearing, honey refining, clothing sales, campsite creation, bread making, meat processing, and leather sales. The basket group brings women together from many small villages in and around Ngurunit and serves as one of the larger sources of income generation. The basket group also centralizes all of these smaller women’s groups in one location and with one purpose.

Our group received much attention in 2005 when we were chosen as a Global Challenge finalist. The group was able to begin to sell baskets outside Kenya, and our high quality and unique designs were soon in high demand around the world. The basket group then began to get better organized to meet the demands and expectations of those international clients. To this end, the group began to abide by fair trade principles and guidelines. We have taken steps to empower all our group members, to pay fair wages, to create a safe working environment, to ensure that we are sustainably harvesting and sourcing doum palm leaves, to create systems and processes to ensure the integrity of our products, to create new design creation, and to foster openness and transparency at all levels of the group.