The Economic, Social, Institutional Constraints On Women's Microenterprises development: A Case Study of Jewelry Production among The Maasai of Kenya.
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The MSE (micro-small enterprises) have a pivotal role in the poverty alleviation process, in the creation of employment and in the development of the Kenyan economy, therefore it’s important to enhance and favor the women participation into this particular segment. By analyzing the specific situation of a community in Kenya, Elangata Wuas, several constraints (economic, social and institutional) have clearly emerged hindering the development of this specific sector. Several factors were analyzed that play a determinant role in shaping the actual situation such as land tenure reform, privatization, climate change, difficulties of relying on pastoralism and the push for diversification. This research aims at understanding first the actual situation and then practical ways to empower the women of Elangata Wuas (and of Maasailand more in general) through the development of the handicrafts business, an expertise embedded in the Maasai culture. The following research question lies at the heart of this study: - How is possible to empower the women in Elangata Wuas through the selling of handicrafts and overcome the economic, social and institutional constraints? Answers to this question are provided by conducting literature research and qualitative case study that implies town census, interviews, case study comparison and observation of the local situation in Elangata Wuas. The first period was spent in Nairobi in order to better understand the national policy of the Kenyan government around handicrafts business and also deepen into the constraints faced by the sellers in different markets across the city (to analyze the possibility of access for a local community to these markets). The second period (the longest one, 3 months) was spent doing the fieldwork into the community of Elangata Wuas in order to analyze the specific situation, conduct the town census and the interviews. Several constraints were found hindering the development of MSE and specifically of handicrafts business, therefore, outcomes are given in order to improve the actual situation. Findings, show that the government should provide an enabling environment for the development of the MSE sector. The only initiative put in place by the Ministry of Culture is the registration for artists or a group of artists entailing several benefits such as trainings and annual exhibitions. In order to overcome the limited market access, several outcomes are outlined: approach other markets such as internet, Kajiado (a close by town) and the international one through the establishment of connections with NGO’s as Terre Nel Cuore (Italian NGO interested in approaching this community). Another interesting opportunity investigated was to get connected with a fair trade organization and benefits from trainings, new market access and connections with international buyers. Moreover, diversification of the range of products offered is a first determinant of success (as emerged by the case study analysis) and few women in Elangata Wuas are nowadays diversifying the products offered. A list of new trends (gathered across Kenya) of products is given in order to stimulate the creativity of these women. Finally, different funding opportunities in the area of Elangata Wuas were investigated mainly referred to those womenwho are not able to open an MSE due to lack of available funding.