Meet Anne Mukuria – founder, African Flaire.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Anne works with Wendo – a self-help group focussed on weaving traditional Kenyan baskets.
Working with rural communities poses its challenges. As rainfall in the eastern part of Kenya isn’t always consistent, growing and processing sisal into a material that can be woven, can be tedious. Other challenges include transportation, access to market and finding enough customers for their products.
Despite these challenges, Anne finds great fulfillment and purpose in her work. “I was working for a company which sold shoes and working with the Wendo self-help group is the best thing that ever happened to me, because now I have a purpose in my life,” shared Anne.
As a social entrepreneur, working with the Wendo self-help group has enabled Anne to provide for her own family too and expand on her own creativity. “I have gotten opportunities to try new ideas and styles in designing the baskets, which is fun and enjoyable.”
The woven baskets are made out of sisal and wool. “We tend to recycle old cardigans we have at home and weave them into the sisal, thus making unique designs and cutting costs of our raw materials. We also make baskets made out of banana bark harvested from our land. This is another way we cut costs and importantly, we are weaving biodegradable products.”
Anne reflected, “As a consumer, I first pay attention to a products functionality and it’s design and then gauge the price to see if it is worth paying for how and where it is made.” These are principles Anne incorporates into her work with the Wendo self-help group too.
“It brings me great joy to share with the producers that the customers are happy with their work and appreciate the baskets. Their laughter, smiles and contentment they have is a reminder that I’m living out my purpose in life. I’m also grateful to have a supportive husband who is my number one cheerleader!”
As she looks to the year ahead, Anne would like to continue to build her client base by sharing the work and stories of the producers. “I want the customers to have a sense of the community from which they are buying their products.”
To learn more about African Flaire, visit: https://africanflaire.com/