by Robert Manyara NAKURU
(Xinhua) -- Kenya is a country where 42
percent of the population is living in poverty and life is more
difficult for those without skills or innovative ideas to generate
For Siafu Women Group, whose membership is drawn
from unemployed women with below college education, survival is
capitalizing on available low-capital opportunities in art and
culture and waste management.
The group is based in Kaptembwa, a low income residential area in
Nakuru County in the Rift Valley region in Kenya.
Alice Boyani, the team leader said the 30 members would not earn
enough from performing cultural songs during international
commemoration days, political events and local activities and so
they diversified into showcasing cultural artifacts and making
handicrafts from recycled waste.
"When we started off in 2010, we were only focused on performing
but with time we realized the income was not consistent," said
Boyani on Wednesday.
"We had to make a decision on the way forward.
"We agreed to start collecting artifacts of Kisii culture and
exhibit them during cultural events held within Nakuru County for a
price," she added.
Boyani said showcasing the cultural artifacts has taught her a
lesson that culture can unite people.
"Our group consists of members from Kikuyu and Kisii and we blend
so well as we have learnt each other’s culture and created a
connection to it. It makes us feel one," she noted.
Their latest exhibition was during the celebration of
International Museum Day on May 17 at Hyrax Museum Hill in Nakuru,
about 160km northwest of the capital city, Nairobi.
According to Lillian Amwanda, curator at the museum, communities
can preserve their cultures through songs, artifacts or writings and
it is important as it keeps their history alive through generations.
"Museums are a great source of information on cultural diversity
and we encourage locals to visit museums and learn a lot about other
cultures," said Amwanda.
While on the tourism sector, the Siafu Women Group is
contributing to cultural cohesion, on environmental protection
front, the women are promoting sustainable management of solid waste
through recycling waste into usable products.
Since 2014, the women have been using waste papers used in
packaging cosmetics used in salons in making necklaces and table
"Usually the papers are openly dumped in Kaptembwa so our work is
to collect and sanitize them before making the handicrafts," said
Boyani who trained the rest of the women on how to make the wares
having acquired the skills from a friend.
They sell them at the events they attend and during church and
women group meetings.
Their prices range from 150 shillings (1.50 U.S. dollars) to 30
dollars depending on the size and whether sold as a set.
"It is good business but also comes with its own challenges, the
main one being securing a reliable and sustainable market," noted
Joyce Wambui, a group member.
Wambui said they hope they would get support to modernize their
business and grow their returns in order to improve their standard
Tom Nyamache, an economist said for women to run sustainable
income generating activities it is important that they are equipped
with basic entrepreneurial skills.
"In every corner of this country, women drive Kenya’s economy
through the various small scale businesses they ran but the question
is how well are they equipped to run and grow their businesses?" he
"It is important we have incubation centers for women who are
unskilled or have little education.
"Centers where they can interact with highly skilled
entrepreneurs from countries like China to learn how to successfully
drive their enterprises into large scale businesses," he added.