#10Women: Josephine Aliyaro, Star Beader, Salamis Women's Group

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“These days, we rarely ask the men for anything, they say: these women are now supporting themselves!”- Josephine Aliyaro, Star Beader, Salamis Women's Group, Melako Conservancy.

Josephine has been beading with her friends for 10 years. “Our financial problems brought us together in 2008,” she recalls, “at that time, we had to ask our husbands for an amount as small as Ksh. 5 to buy pencils for our children. We decided to each contribute an amount of money to the group, which we would then lend each other when there was an urgent need - this became our bank.”

This entrepreneurial spirit has served the group well. They were one of the first women’s groups to partner with the NRT Trading BeadWORKS business, which has enabled them to sell beaded jewellery and accessories to international markets. In 2017, Melako Conservancy emerged top in the BeadWORKS revenue chart, thanks in no small part to Josephine and her team. 

At a practical level, their income has enabled the women to pay school fees and hospital bills, put food on the table, and reduce reliance on livestock. But it has also had a far greater impact on their entire community. Salamis donates 40% of their annual revenue to Melako Conservancy’s operational budget, in recognition of the institutional support offered to their business by the Conservancy. This has hugely increased their engagement in conservancy affairs, and the women now contribute actively in conservancy meetings and have a say in conservancy decisions. "When money gets into the conservancy, we know it has gotten into the community and we are happy to see the work of our hands benefiting our community,” says Josephine. 

Sophie Harrison