Prior to Fall 2015, SYEF worked together with a group of Samburu women from Unity Village to sell their beaded work now and then at a few locations and events in the United States when a decent opportunity emerged to do so. Unity Village is located in the same community where all of SYEF’s scholarship recipients — including two girls from Unity Village – and SYEF’s co-founders’ relationship with the village predates when SYEF was founded in 2010. Starting Summer 2015, we launched a more ambitious and methodical approach to this partnership, and attended a dozen events and sold upwards of $7,000 in merchandise, much of it in the months leading up to the holiday season.
SYEF purchases the items from the women at a price agreed to by everyone. The women are paid directly at the time they hand the goods over for shipment to the U.S. SYEF, in turn, marks the items up and the profit supports our scholarships. The women at Unity are strong supporters of SYEF, and sometimes they even pass along an unsolicited discount or include extra items in our orders to help support our cause.
With this partnership we are supporting women’s empowerment and independence in a region where rights for women have traditionally been very, very limited. We’re also supporting our scholarship program, of course. Women’s rights and education are investments that will change this world if it catches on in enough places.
With the funds the Unity women earned this year, they have made upgrades to their homes to provide greater security, purchased livestock, afforded visits to a clinic for themselves or their children, and are able to fill their water tank (pictured here) with treated water rather than walking to the river to collect water that is not often safe for drinking.
If you have an event or idea on where there may be a market for beaded goods, please let us know!