For 30 years, Anne Mutua has dedicated herself to crafting exquisite bead products, with her most popular creations being handbags made from a special type of bead known as saramic.
Originally aspiring to pursue a journalism career after excelling in her studies and anticipating university enrollment, financial constraints redirected Anne to Nairobi, where she sought employment to support her siblings who were still in school.
Fate took a turn for the better when she crossed paths with an entrepreneur she fondly remembers as Mr. Munyao. He opened the doors to prosperity by mentoring her in the technical art of crafting bead items with exceptional skill.
Anne quickly grasped the intricacies of the craft, inspired not only by Mr. Munyao but also by her mother, who shared a similar skill. Together, they operated a beadwork business in a car park along Kigali Road before it was demolished after two years.
Undeterred, Anne envisioned her future path and decided to open a small stall, embarking on a journey of self-reliance that she has not looked back on since.
She operates her business in the Maasai market, where they have designated trading days in various locations. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can find them near the Supreme Court, and on Tuesdays, they set up shop at the City market and near Michuki Park, opposite Kijabe Road.
Anne sources materials such as saramic beads, wood, and other necessary components for her creations. She specializes in crafting saramic and bead handbags of various sizes, priced between Sh500 and Sh2,000.
When she receives orders, Anne dedicates herself to completing them on time, often with the assistance of her three employees. Besides teaching numerous individuals who have ventured into self-employment, she also sells her products to both retail and wholesale vendors, as well as tourists, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook.
Anne emphasizes that success in this craft requires unwavering dedication, hard work, and creativity.
However, she acknowledges challenges, particularly the decline in tourism affecting market attendance. Unlike before, tourists no longer frequent the marketplaces, but she has witnessed an increase in local buyers.
Working in an open-air market also presents challenges, as the weather, be it scorching sun or heavy rain, can impact the quality of her products.
Anne appeals to the government for support in promoting entrepreneurs and their products internationally, as an alternative means of economic empowerment for both the artisans and the country.
Additionally, she requests assistance in securing a permanent market space, providing stability to her business.