How Do Me to We Artisans Work?
Me to We Artisans: A snapshot
Me to We has helped almost 1, 000 Mamas transform their lives, families and communities, while sharing beading traditions with the world.
Skilled Mamas make a variety of Me to We Artisans products, including necklaces, bracelets and beaded handbags.
These women are Maasai and Kipsigis, and have learned to bead as part of their cultural heritage; passed down from mama to daughter for centuries.
Me to We Artisans also works with Mamas from outside Nairobi as well as 14 other women’s groups, mostly from villages throughout the South Narok region of Kenya, near the Maasai Mara.
How are Me to We Artisans paid a fair wage?
The wage paid to Me to We Artisans was determined using a number of factors:
- Our team in Kenya met with female community leaders, who were already selling their beading, to determine what was fair.
- We considered time and skill involved.
- We interviewed the women to find out what they needed to support their families, including buying food and paying school fees.
- We assessed market conditions, ranging from what consumers would pay for the handiwork, as well as the costs of sourcing suppliers for beads and leather, as well as our own operating costs. We provide beads and other materials to the Mamas.
As a result of our discussions, research and needs assessment, Mamas who bead for us now make approximately four times what they were paid previously for their beaded work.
In almost all cases, Mamas are paid by the piece.
Mamas who have been hired as team leaders, community organizers or bookkeepers are paid a salary.
How does Me to We Artisans empower Mamas?
The Mamas who work with Me to We Artisans have had their lives transformed.
Earning a fair wage is just part of the many benefits they, and their families, and communities, have received.
Mamas have been able to:
- Pay school fees for their children
- Buy clothes
- Purchase rain barrels and delivered-water so they can stop hauling water from far away water sources (up to five hours a day)
- Improve their homes
- Start small businesses
- Purchase and raise cows and goats in order to further supplement their incomes
- Having an income enables them to take leadership roles in their communities
What are the working conditions for Mamas working for Me to We Artisans?
Me to We has partnered with our mamas to ensure not only that they have suitable working conditions, but also that they were involved in creating their circumstances.
- Me to We ensures their cultural traditions are maintained, and that meetings are structured as they have always been, sitting together under acacia trees.
- Women receive training to improve their skill and adapt their work to North American tastes.
- Me to We also provides a spacious workshop in Nairobi—with flush toilets, hot lunch, and to-and-from transportation—for Mamas who are tackling more skilled projects.
- Me to We staff in Kenya, and also from Toronto, have met with beaders to explain all aspects of the business.
- Mamas have been involved in designing products, providing design ideas and even marketing the products.
- Some Mamas have travelled to North America to see Me to We’s headquarters, as well as meet the customers who purchase their products.
- Every women’s beading group has a chairwoman (who runs the group and is its voice), secretary (who keeps notes) and treasurer (responsible for handing out pay).
- Each community also has mobilizers that talk to the Mamas who are beading and pass on concerns and information to the Chairwomen.