Lotusland Imports, of West Vancouver, British Columbia proudly introduces Canada to the stunning jewellery of Tanzania, East Africa, designed in Milan.
In 2006 Tanzania Maasai Women Art Ltd. (TMWA) was founded in partnership with Instituto Oikos, Oikos East Africa and Instituto Europeo di Design of Milan, Italy. The concept was to create new and vastly improved business and educational opportunities for the talented Maasai women of Tanzania whose income came previously from the illegal sale of charcoal.
Within two years, under the passionate care of Swiss conservationist Marina Oliver, Tanzania Maasai Women Art Limited grew and evolved and achieved registration as a Tanzanian non-profit company. The stylish retail shop was opened in the bustling heart of Arusha, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Today TMWA is a thriving all-woman business with a full staff compliment, providing employment and empowering 180 Maasai women from Mkuru, who now enjoy much improved living conditions and are now able to pay school fees to send all their children to school, breaking the multi-generational cycle of illiteracy. Due to their business success, for the first time ever, the men in the tribe have given the women land of their own to conduct their beadwork artistry, an acknowledgement of their remarkable business achievements. TMWA not only offers a generous income alternative with good working conditions, but has also created awareness of the importance of the protection of natural resources.
In Tanzania women use jewellery to enhance their beauty, attract mates and communicate their status within the community. Thanks to the collaboration of Milan designer Francesca Torri Soldini and her students at the Instituto di Design, these women are now using jewellery as a means to gain independence and create better lives for themselves and their families.
Exporting to many countries, it is now possible to see these remarkable pieces in Paris and New York. It is our hope that people who purchase and wear our beautiful jewellery will help to carry the story of Maasai women, to create awareness of the hardships women face in Maasai communities.
As of 2011, these stunning Italian-African works of art are now available in Canada through Lotusland Imports of West Vancouver.