Dear Ibu Allies,
Hello, my name is Beatrice Namunyak Lempaira, and I am the BeadWORKS director at Northern Rangelands Trust–Trading and an artisan partner with Ibu.
I was born and raised in northern Kenya—the firstborn in a family of six children. My home is situated in Laikipia in Northern Kenya, characterized by open grasslands, bushes, and Acacia trees, ideal for raising livestock and supporting wildlife. The landscape, the people, and wildlife that flourish in this region have had a significant impact on my education, career, and passions.
In 2015, I started as the production manager for BeadWORKS. I worked with over 1,300 semi-nomadic women from different villages and ethnic groups to utilize their traditional beading skills. The women create beaded products, including leather items for local and international markets—earning an income to support their families and communities. In addition, the women are committed to conserving natural resources and wildlife through self-governed, community-owned conservancies and sustainable, social and ethical enterprise.
One of the greatest pleasures of my work is meeting our BeadWORKS’ artisans in their own communities. Some of my most memorable moments are sitting with the women for hours under Acacia trees or in their homes, discussing quality standards or color choices, but more importantly chatting about our dreams for the future. I am inspired to see the women—and their livelihoods—thrive. When a woman is empowered, she will transform her community. This is not cliché statement—I have seen it, and experienced my own transformation working with these women.
Every single moment I spend on BeadWORKS coordination, I think about my mother. Like the more than one-thousand women with whom we work, she did not attend school, but was committed to ensuring her children thrived.
Through our Star Beaders-led program, self-governed women’s groups work with the office team to establish seamless production. Over the years, we have created a movement of pastoral women entrepreneurs who efficiently fulfill business orders from the comfort of their homes. At the same time, a sisterhood of women supporting each other through meaningful community relationships has developed.
As the BeadWORKS organization has improved and grown over the years, there is an increased demand from more women who want to join the business. Our greatest challenge is having enough orders to keep them busy and allow them to earn a living income to support their families.
During the global pandemic, our orders dwindled—some customers closed businesses and we didn’t have enough work for the artisans. Thankfully orders from Ibu and a few other customers kept us going during the uncertain moments. In addition, we received a grant from the Ibu Foundation to provide our artisans with production kits that include much needed supplies. Having these tools will lessen production time and improve the quality of our products.
To our customers and donors of the Ibu Movement, on behalf of all our women in Northern Kenya, Thank You! Your partnership and support enables us better our lives and the lives of our children; preserve our indigenous wildlife and landscape; and contribute to a thriving future.
Ashe Oleng’ — Thank You,
Beatrice Namunyak Lempaira