I&M Foundation works through partners to support initiatives in a catalytic and value-adding manner in the areas of Environmental Conservation, Education and skills development, Economic empowerment, and Enabling giving. One of our implementing partners under the Economic empowerment pillar is the Maa Trust.
The Maa Trust
Did you know that the Maa Trust has been supporting communities to work towards a harmonious balance between conservation and sustainable human development in the Maasai Mara?
Let us indulge more on this!!
The Maa Trust, whose headquarters is located in Maasai Mara between Naboisho and Olare Motorogi conservancies, was created to undertake community development work around wildlife conservancies in the Maasai Mara to ensure that women, youth, and children also benefit from conservation through poverty alleviation.
I&M Foundation has been supporting the Maa Trust under its Economic Empowerment pillar to cushion it from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. I&M Foundation is supporting one of the key projects under this Trust, namely the Maa Beadwork project, which up-skills 579 Maasai women in their traditional handicraft – beadwork – and assists in developing markets for the beaded products.
Recently, during the I&M Foundation’s monitoring visit, it was clear that the Trust has successfully nurtured the MaaBeadwork beneficiaries to develop alternative environmentally sustainable livelihoods that will empower them and in turn reduce household’s environmental impact as well as improve attitudes towards conservation. The Foundation witnessed the Maasai women doing their beadwork and heard their stories of the ongoing impact of the program.
Through the Maa beadwork, the women work together in self-help groups to develop high-quality beadwork products for sale to tourists and socially responsible outlets around the world. Each self-help group has its own sustainable spending (“micro-finance”) programme whereby they contribute money regularly enabling them to support each other with loans. With the support of the I&M Foundation, the Maa Trust trained 14 Trainer of Trainees (TOTs) on income usage. These TOTs have proceeded to train 384 of the 579 Maasai women on the same.
Drawing from the women’s testimonials, the community has witnessed improved livelihoods inform of sustained household incomes as well as being placed in a better position to pay school fees for their children leading to their continual schooling. This initiative is also aligned to SDG* 5 on achieving gender equality through empowering all women and girls.
Access to clean safe drinking water is one of the greatest challenges for the Maasai communities in the Mara. The Maa Trust has been training the Maa women on rainwater harvesting methods and has extended it to supporting the women acquiring water tanks in their households. Some of the women have started small kitchen garden projects in their homes tricking down to improved hygiene and nutrition levels.
Further, the Maa Trust through these sustainable spending programmes, has helped the women come up with a list of their household priority needs and then use the funds to address the greatest needs. By doing this, women are able to afford ways to generate their incomes independent of their husbands, improve their health, reduce their environmental impact and make more time in which they can be economically productive.
*SDG - The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. There are 17 goals.