Entrepreneurs and wildlife champions - the businesswomen of BeadWORKS


Yiampan doesn’t know how old she is exactly. Not a lot of Samburu do. She guesses between 30 and 40. A busy mother of seven, Yiampan is also a member of the Naisunyai Women’s Group in Westgate Community Conservancy, who run a successful beadcraft business through NRT Trading. 

As the Star Beader (think branch manager) of her group, Yiampan finds time in between taking care of the house, children and livestock to oversee the development, production and quality of the beadcraft that comes out of her group. She is the link between them, and the NRT Trading BeadWORKS team, who provide the training, resources and markets for their thriving business, and a number of others just like it. 


In fact, BeadWORKS supported 1,021 women in nine NRT conservancies to earn KES 6.3 million (USD 62,000) in direct income from beadcraft sales in 2017. Over 70,000 beaded items were sold to domestic and international markets.  

“Although I’ve always loved beading" says Yiampan, "I enjoy it more now that I’ve joined BeadWORKS. There’s no stress when it comes to buying the raw materials, so I can concentrate on experimenting with different designs.” 

Initially, Yiampan’s husband was against her joining BeadWORKS. “He complained and we argued a lot. He was worried I was going to dismiss my household chores. Now that he sees how much it’s helping our family, he’s really supportive.” 

As well as empowering women, BeadWORKS is helping increase support for conservancies and wildlife conservation. With the understanding that conservancy infrastructure supports their business development, the women pay a certain percentage of their profits in conservancy fees. In 2017, this amounted to KES 1.2 million (USD 11,800) for conservancies. 

"The conservancy fees enable the women to feel they have a right to be involved in the decision-making processes of their conservancies," says Ture Boru, Community Economic Empowerment Director for NRT Trading. 

Apart from a place to exchange products and access raw materials for the next order, the NRT-Trading market days are a good opportunity for catching up with friends. “I love to bead with other women. We talk about latest ideas, techniques and products. We support and inspire each other.” says Yiampan. 

Yiampan’s income from BeadWORKS has reduced her family’s reliance on livestock. It has also made her more confident that all seven of her children will be able to finish school. 

Yiampan and her son

Yiampan and her son

Sophie Harrison