Our story started very unexpectedly. I went to Kenya on a mission trip in February of 2018 with an organization called Reaching Beyond Ourselves to be of service to the suffering and displaced people in Kitale, Kenya. I raised funds to go there and felt it was God’s calling for me to go. I went with the attitude to do whatever I could to be of service.
We went to serve and take supplies such as food, blankets and clothing to schools, churches and clinics and prisons, slums and kids on the streets. One of the last places we visited during our time there is called the Kipsongo slum. The homes in Kipsongo are mud huts with a tin roof and dirt or rough concrete floor. There is no running water, no kitchen, and no bathrooms. We went to Kipsongo with supplies and stories of hope. We toured the slum and as we were preparing to leave I noticed some of the women had some hand made items for sale. We didn't have any money with us so couldn't buy anything.
As we were preparing to leave, one of the women Patricia (pictured with her son Maxwell) gifted me with the hand made beaded necklace I am wearing in the photo. The necklace is made of magazines. She was hoping for someone to sponsor her son for school.
On the way back to our lodging, I discovered someone who had been on a previous trip had provided a micro loan for the women to get materials to make the beads. They were making beads and selling them in the local market.
That night I went to sleep thinking about Maxwell and his mom Patricia. I woke up in the middle of the night with a God inspired idea to buy some beads and sell them with my Think Like A Negotiator book when I speak. I have been speaking for many years and thought this story would fit in with what I was speaking on and people could get a book and a bead instead of only a book. Baskets and Beads was born that night in the middle of the night.
We started with 5 women and half a suitcase full of beads. Slowly we doubled our order and then it was an entire suitcase, then 7 suitcases, 11 suitcases and now we are shipping regularly from Kenya. We have 34 women now that we work with and space in two retail locations and have wholesale customers and now our online store.
We have expanded to include another group in Kenya that makes soapstone products and employs about 30-50 people to work on our orders depending on the size of the order.
We are teaching entrepreneurism to our ladies. They are all considered businesswomen in the slum and looked up to in their community as leaders. Some of them have added another stream of income and all of them have a great work ethic and work hard towards their success. They work together as a team and are happy to be part of the Baskets and Beads family.
Thank you for visiting and supporting the women in Kenya. Your purchase is helping them get out of poverty and create a better life for themselves and their families.