The new Constitution of Kenya promulgated in 2010 sets off that women and men have the right to equal treatment, which includes the right to equal opportunities at the political, economic, cultural and social levels.
The Kenya Vision 2030 strategy aims to make Kenya a middle-income and industrialized country by 2030 and two of the ten key sectors for achieving this goal are crafts and professional training. The textile sector, which includes leather goods, therefore offers an important opportunity for industrialization and exportation diversification.
Another opportunity for the marketing of Emèl products comes from the tourism sector which is experiencing a strong recovery, especially thanks to the opening to a younger target than in the past.
In this context, Children of Africa’s decision has matured to launch Emèl, our female social enterprise dedicated to the production of high-quality leather and fabric items and founded in 2020.
The Emèl project aims to offer female students graduated in tailoring and leather processing at Mama Lorenza’s Vocational Centre the opportunity for employment in a safe environment, in which their rights as workers and women are respected and in which they have access to continuous training and quality. The project was partly funded by the Bern Department of Development and Cooperation (DDC).
In 2017, when we added leather processing to the MLVC teaching, we visited training centres, tanneries and companies in the sector. On this occasion we met Rift Africa, a Nairobi company that produces leather goods, founded by Robert and Roly who were passionate about the project and who initially helped us set up the educational laboratory, find machinery, suppliers and most suitable materials.
In 2019 we built a 250 sqm laboratory to start the Emèl production and Rift Africa helped us again to select materials and machinery and also offered an internship to the four female students who later became part of the Emèl staff.
Together we have designed and produced two lines of high-quality items, one in cotton and one in leather, and we have opened a shop in Diani Beach where we sell the products made by our staff.
At the moment, Emèl offers work to 4 former female students, an former teacher and an former teacher from Mama Lorenza’s Vocational Centre.
All products are handmade with local raw materials and we focus a lot on staff training and quality. In 2021 we plan to open an online shop to market the items also in Europe.
Translated by Monica Giancaspro