The idea for this jewellery project actually came as a creative and collaborative environmental solution to help stop deforestation in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, East Africa, while simultaneously addressing the poverty of the local Maasai tribe by using an innovative business solution. Until our jewellery project, the Maasai tribeswomen in this region generated income by cutting down trees and making and selling charcoal. This resulting deforestation was unsustainable and destructive to the balance of the ecosystem.
In 2006, through a chance meeting of two women in the small Kilimanjaro airport waiting room, a clever but very simple idea was born. Both women discussed how deeply troubled they were by the increasing rate of deforestation and desertification they were witnessing in the region, how bans had failed and were impossible to implement - yet these Maasai women needed a way to make money to support their families. As the women talked the answer became clear. By combining strengths - the design genius from Italy and the rich beading artisanship of the Maasai - a company could be created offering an alternative work solution. Now instead of logging for charcoal these highly talented women artisans are meticulously handcrafting pieces of wearable art using designs created by students at the Istituto Europea di Design in Milan, mentored by partner and Director Francesca Soldini.