Kenana Knitters: About the makers
Kenana Knitters was founded in 1998 to give income to the rural women of Njoro, Kenya through their spinning and knitting skills.
Kenya is the worlds third fastest growing economy, however in rural areas work is still underpaid and hard to find. Women are paid less than men even for the same work. There is no water or electricity to most homes and this makes the women's household work more demanding. As well, ante-natal care is generally poor. Kenya is amongst the 10 nations that have the highest neo natal deaths annually. (Global Health Action - 2017)
Over the last 20 years, the Kenana Knitters have worked with many local ladies who were lacking a market for their homespun wool. With the aim to further impact the community, Kenana taught women in the area to knit beautiful, organic cotton products using local, sustainable resources. By providing a safe, family-friendly working environment, the organisation empowers women, offering them a chance to take charge of their lives, with pride and dignity. The organisation sells their collections of hand crafted products locally and to countries around the world.
Kenana Knitters first priority is to support women within their local community and enable them to earn an income for themselves, to give them the self respect of being able to support themselves, and improve the quality of their lives by providing them with enough income for themselves and their extended families.
The Kenana Team is made up of spinners and knitters and the amazing women who use organic locally available products to dye of the wool for each Kenana Character.
There are 200 Spinners who earn an income for their wool through Kenana. The spinners use spinning wheels made from recycled bike tyres to spin the wool.
The 300 or so knitters are supplied with wool through Kenana for each toy they create. Knitting requires minimal equipment and can be done around the household responsibilities of the women. Each woman signs the Kenana tag on completion of her work.
Kenana also provide HIV medication, and Family Planning information. It also provides a monthly health clinic for the women, free eye checks and glasses when needed, a savings plan, literacy and numeracy support. The women who live without electricity can also recharge phones and torches during their work time at Kenana Farm.
At The Fair Trader the women of Kenana inspire us with their resilience and strength, and of course we love the toys they create!
"The work here is stress free, as women we come here to work, we invest in our small self-help groups, we share our stories and best of all we laugh are are happy. That's why I like being here."
- Grace Muchemi
"I want to thank Paddy and Kenana Knitters. This work has helped me and my children in very many ways, my work that has enabled me to provide shelter, education, food and clothing for my children."
- Lucy Muthoni
"Kenana has given me an income that I can truly rely on. I have been able to provide for my children. When we come home from our day at the workshop, our children know that we have earned money that can buy books, pencils among other things. I would never have been able to achieve what I have achieved for my family without Kenana."
- Margaret Lopkoki