Jamii Coffee is founded on a commitment to improve lives through business. Our Jamii Coffee Key Chains are our small beginning towards fulfilling this commitment. The Key Chains are handcrafted by Maasai women in Namanga town in Kajiado County of Kenya.
As we were preparing for our first shipment we wanted to offer something that was authentic to Kenya and had direct economic impact to the communities beyond the trade of coffee. While brainstorming with Lewis, Jamii Coffee’s team member who lives on the border town of Namanga, he mentioned how a 2-year drought had had devastating effect in the Maasai heartland. Lewis travels into the heartland installing solar panels on houses beyond the main electricity grid. He shared that, the men had travelled away with the herds looking for pastures leaving behind women and children. To provide for their families the women would come to Namanga town looking for employment.
How could we help?
The Maasai women are excellent bead jewelry makers. Like so many other Kenyans, I wear my bead bracelet with pride. The bracelets originated from the craftmanship of the Maasai. For us no brainer that authentic handcrafted bead items would provide the much-needed employment. We contracted with some Maasai women to make the Key Chains for us. With no shop to work in, Lewis allocated them some space at the back of his electronic repair shop. The women designed and handmade Red, Black, and Green and Red, White and Blue Key Chains signifying Kenya and the US respectively.
In March, the rains came, the men came back home and women went back to the heartland. Lewis still travels in the heartland and keeps in touch with the women. We continue work and engage with them on future bead jewelry projects and other projects.