In 2011, we launched the program in Enoosaen – a remote Maasai village in Transmara District, Narok County in Kenya. In 2012, we expanded the Enkiteng program to Nyeri in Central District. In 2015, we partnered with Global Connections Kenya to launch a sewing and knitting cooperative with women in Nyamira County.
An important part of the Enkiteng Program is the training in basic financial management. We provide training in cash management, opening/balancing a bank account, accessing business loans, and record keeping. We also work with our participants in learning how to develop new products, buying raw materials, determining the cost, and pricing for a profit.
We are always seeking donations of colorful cotton or cotton/poly blend fabrics and other sewing notions. Please call or e-mail us to find out what are our current needs. We are also seeking donations of electric sewing machines in working order or cash to purchase treadle machines, so that we can include more women in the program.
Seeds to Sew distributes the donated and purchased materials to our program participants. Our goal is for the participants to create new ideas for products of their own design and move on to developing their own suppliers and starting their own businesses.
WHAT ARE ENKITENG BAGS?
Enkiteng Bags are re-usable cloth gift wrapping bags that were originally designed to serve as an eco-friendly way to wrap presents. Over the years they have been on the market, they have morphed into so much more! They are being used as travel bags, storage for jewelry, shoes and many other uses. They are fast, flexible, and easy to use – as well as fun to give – and re-gift!
Enkiteng bags have many different uses:
- Gift wrapping
- Shoe bag
- Supply storage bag
- Lunch bag
- Travel laundry bag
- Pillow cover
- Toiletry bag
- Jewelry bag
When wrapping your presents, consider this:
– In the U.S., annual trash from gift-wrapping and shopping bags totals 4 million tons (source: Use Less Stuff)
– From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills (Source: EPA)
– If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet (Source: CalRecycle)
– Half of the paper America consumes is used to wrap and decorate consumer products (Source: The Recycler’s Handbook, 1990)
The concept first originated from one of our founder’s spouse, who being either lazy and environmentally friendly, insisted on wrapping all presents in pillowcases. Inspired by this concept (or tired of all the missing pillow cases around the holidays), founders Jan Ito and Lianne Aoyagi created a design using ribbon and remnants from quilting supplies. Since the early 2000’s, the bags have been in use between family and friends with many compliments and people asking, “where can I get these?”
Because of the very simple design, low cost, and ease of transportability, the founders of Seeds to Sew felt that this was a perfect project to pilot a basic sewing program. We are very encouraged with the results and the positive impact it has already made for the women involved!
KITENGE WRAPPING BAGS
Kitenge wrapping bags are premium Enkiteng bags made by the women in our program, using traditional Kenyan fabric called Kitenge. As a second phase in our sewing program, we train our seamstresses in basic business skills, such as starting a bank account, as well as understanding investment (purchasing locally produced fabric), profit (selling a finished good in the market), and product development.
KITENGE KNAPSACKS, SHOULDER BAGS,
SCRUNCHIES AND HEADBANDS
Introducing Kitenge knapsack, shoulder bag, scrunchie and headband!
Kitenge knapsacks are made using the beautiful Kitenge colorful fabrics with either cotton edging, or hemp edging from a wonderful company Bulkhempwarehouse as the strap.
”Enkiteng” means “cow” in the Maasai language. Since the Maasai community is the first community where we launched the sewing program, we felt that this name was fitting. A cow symbolizes freedom, wealth, and power in this community. Cows are valued as being the most giving animal as they provide milk on a daily basis, and meat in times of need. Cows are also the dowry that is paid by a groom’s family for a girl’s hand in marriage.