Listen to Eldonna's Testimony of How Baskets and Beads Came to Be
From Mud Huts to Stories of Hope
Our story started very unexpectedly. Eldonna 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. She raised funds to go and do whatever she could to be of service. They took supplies including food, blankets and clothing to schools, churches and clinics and prisons, slums and kids on the streets. One of the last places visited was the Kipsongo slum. The homes are mud huts with a tin roof and dirt or rough concrete floor. There is no running water, no kitchen, and no bathrooms. They shared supplies and stories of hope.
As they were preparing to leave Eldonna noticed some of the women had hand-made items for sale. They didn’t have any money so they couldn’t buy anything.
One Gift that Ignited an Idea
One of the women gifted Eldonna with a beaded necklace... made of magazines. The mother was hoping for someone to sponsor her son for school. Eldonna discovered someone on a previous mission had provided a micro loan for the women to get materials to make the beads and sell them in the local market. Eldonna woke up in the middle of the night with a God-inspired idea to buy some beads and sell them with her Think Like A Negotiator book when she would speak. 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.
Suitcases of Success
They started with five women and half a suitcase full of beads made of magazines. Slowly Eldonna doubled her order... and then it was an entire suitcase... then 7 suitcases, 11 suitcases... and now is receiving regular shipments from Kenya. Today, over 30 Kenyan women entrepreneurs are making the hand crafted products which are sold in a retail space in a Southern California location, in the online store and wholesale to several stores and boutique shops. Recently Baskets and Beads expanded to engage another 30-40 men and women making products of Kisii soapstone, from Kisii county in Kenya. Soapstone is one of the softest known minerals, making it easy to carve for bowls, decorative small dishes, ornaments and various animals.
Self-Esteem, Status and Success
This program is teaching entrepreneurial skills to the ladies in Kenya. They are revered as “businesswomen” and looked up to in their community as leaders. This has provided an opportunity to earn regular income, learn sound work ethics and setting and achieving goals toward their success. The ladies work together as a team and are overjoyed to be part of the Baskets and Beads family.
Fair trade is an approach to business and to development based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system. Baskets and Beads is a verified member of the Fair Trade Federation which means our practices have been scrutinized to ensure we are socially and environmentally responsible in everything we do.
From Poverty to Prosperity
Baskets and Beads is committed to supporting the women in Kenya. Our mission is to help them get out of poverty and create a better life for themselves and their families, sending their children to school and ensuring a brighter future.
Baskets and Beads provides a hand up not a hand out by marketing their handcrafted items.