Local products from Africa make up 65% of all handicraft exports around the world, so it’s important that artisans make the profit they deserve, rather than losing it to a distributor or middleman along the way. But communities in rural areas don’t have easy access to the internet or smart devices and can’t access markets willing to pay them what their products are worth.

The TUI Futureshapers Kenya project aims to give control to rural artisans and help them make a good living from their craft. The Shaba Studio works to empower them economically by connecting them to sales by using technology and the digital supply chain.

With no simple way of accessing the internet or smart devices, rural artisans in Kenya can be easily exploited by middlemen. It’s difficult for them to directly access markets which are willing to pay them what their craft is worth. A lack of technology also means the artisans don’t have the knowledge of their crafts true value. So, they are heavily dependent on other people who under-pay them and sell their crafts for a profit which they never see. By solving the inaccessibility to larger markets caused by a huge digital divide, rural artisans can start to earn the living they deserve from their work.

To tackle this issue, we’re working with the Shaba Studio to bridge the gap between artisans and the marketplace. The Shaba Studio has created the Smart Community Center app, a digital marketing application for artisans’ products, especially locally made baskets called Kiondos. The app links artisans to a digital supply chain so they can sell their products internationally as well as locally. It provides them with an efficient, transparent and equal-access platform to receive and respond to orders and keep track of their sales.  

A shared smartphone has been provided to members of the community so they can all have access. A second app, the Shaba app has also been created for people to buy the products. Receipts of payment are made through Mobile money and are available on the app for transparency and accountability.

The project will benefit 430 artisans who work with The Shaba Studio and also get 100 members on their platform. It will also increase the number of products purchased in one year to 500 and a survey will be created for the artisans to understand their views on accessing the markets and revenue.

Project Partner

Economic empowerment of communities living in rural areas: The Shaba Studio works largely with rural women who are a marginalised community group, in order to empower them by seeing them as equal players in the local, national and global playing field. This is because of our view that they have knowledge and skills that can benefit the economy as well as increase social and cultural awareness.


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