Meet Mbeti: Pressing For Progress in 2018
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
- Gloria Steinem
Being a female-led business from our founders to our weavers, we’re all about supporting and raising the profile of women in the professional sphere. But did you know that the World Economic Forum estimates gender parity to still be 200 years away?
Just let that sink in for a minute.
Mbeti weaving outside her workshop
There has never been a more prudent time to press for progress and push for gender parity: encouraging friends, employers, family members and communities to think and behave in more gender-inclusive ways. So today, on International Women’s Day 2018, we’d like you to meet Mbeti.
Mbeti is pressing for progress every single day. Entrepreneur and mother-of-three, she set up her own weaving cooperative single-handedly where she lives in rural Kenya, and now leads twelve weaving groups with over thirty weavers in each group – virtually all of them women who have been taught this precious, income-generating craft by their mothers and grandmothers. Fearless Mbeti built a weavers’ centre with her savings, and it’s from here that she runs the cooperative, stores basket weaving materials and supplies, and prepares completed orders for shipping.
It is Mbeti and her weavers who produce our banana fibre Matunda baskets, our laundry baskets with handles, and our sisal basket bags. Her groups also produced the basket bags and clutches for our extremely popular collaboration with Jigsaw in 2016, and our famous Halima basket bag that was featured in British Vogue the same year.
Mbeti is at the top of her game: she has great relationships with her customers, she’s a charismatic boss and she manages large volumes of basket orders every month. These orders keep her hundreds of weavers in regular work, and able to provide for their own families through this flexible, portable and sociable craft. As the saying goes: empowered women empower women.
We caught up with Mbeti on our trip to Kenya in November last year. She tells us that life for women has changed recently in her community – that women who are empowered by work and business opportunities can put food on the table for the first time, educate their children and build decent homes. She loves the freedom of time that comes with being her own boss, and enjoys building relationships with fellow weavers and the customers she supplies. Her advice to other women thinking about branching out into a new career path? "Have a broad heart, and get support from their family members."
As founders of our own business, we couldn't agree more: take advice and seek help from other professionals, accept all the support you can from your network of friends and family, and approach your new venture with an open mind. mind. We can push for gender parity every day by simply encouraging and championing women in business: buying from them, talking about them, and supporting them in their endeavours. So we invite you to join us, and #PressForProgress – today and always.