COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT | EAST AFRICAN FUNCTIONAL ART | BEAD AND LEATHER WORK

Zinj - African Bead and Leather Design is a rural development project in Takaungu Village, Kenya. They are dedicated to providing global exposure for East African bead and leather-work while simultaneously improving the lives of the people in the area.

Zinj uses natural, free-range, Kenyan beef leather and upcycled materials to make hand stitched beautiful handbags, sandals, belts and other accessories, which are embellished with East African beadwork in both traditional and contemporary patterns and colours.

Having started out with a team of just two male leatherworkers, the team has grown to a group of over 80 artisans living in and around Takaungu Village primarily consisting of women. When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in necessary social distancing measures, most of the beaders moved out of the Zinj workshop and formed themselves into ‘home workgroups’.

These groups consist of close to ten women who work on projects at home handed to them from the workshop. They in turn train other women to create the distinct patterns and workmanship that Zinj excels in. As orders for Zinj’s products increase globally, their version of ‘remote work’ has helped them create a model that scales and positively affects more lives.

"Changing lives one bead at a time"

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