Gifted hands turn waste paper into jewellery
Posted Monday, May 7 2012 at 17:59
“It helps to keep them out of trouble or indulging in activities like drug abuse or crime,” says Ms Afandi.
Not all the raw material they use is free of charge, they say. Besides buying some of the posters, they also pay for the varnish, fishing lines, glue, clay and the plastic and glass beads.
“When we use booklets, especially from tour companies, they sell them to us,” says Ms Okumu.
The women say they face a challenge marketing their products. They rely on word of mouth to sell and hope that with time, they will reach a bigger market.
Ms Afandi says: “When our sponsor was around, she would even export our merchandise. But now getting a ready market is sometimes difficult.”
The road has been a bumpy one since their sponsor left. They no longer have a steady income from their work.
“Sometimes we have to make a choice between feeding our families and raising capital for the business, but we try to always have stock ready in case we get a large order,” says Ms Okumu.
The women mainly target foreigners who they say appreciate African art and even buy at better prices.
“Some of our neighbours undermine our work, saying that we are just wasting time,” she says. “But we will keep carrying on”.
To make the beads, the paper is measured and cut depending on the size and shape needed, then it is folded and glued into shape.
Once the glue dries up, the paper beads are strung and dipped in varnish, which helps them to retain their form, keep out the moisture and create the glossy look. The beads are then dried and aired.
“The reason we string them before applying varnish is to make sure that the holes do not get clogged,” says Jayne-Rose Khavesa.
The paper beads are then sorted depending on colour and shape before being used to make the jewellery.
The group has earned about Sh50,000 for the five months they have been in business, but they are not counting profits yet since they plan to plough the money back into the business.
They re-invest most of the revenue they earn but when they make a substantial sale, they share the money among themselves and soldier on as they anticipate their big break.