Allan, The Screenprinter

At the core of Wildlife Works’ conservation strategy is job creation for people in wildlife-rich areas. In Kenya, at our Kasigau REDD+ project, we finance the development of several business operations, such as an eco-factory and the production of sustainable charcoal. In 2010, Wildlife Works started a screen-printing facility. In the beginning, this facility was in a single room, outside Wildlife Works’ premises, with four workers. Six years later, our screen-printing facility has developed into a renowned facility doing big orders for global clients, such as GlobeIn, Threads for Thought and Greater Good.

hand screen printing Meet Allan

Allan Kiplimo is one of our screen-printing assistants. He comes from the Nandi hills, in western Kenya. Allan was brought up by a single parent, his mother, together with four siblings. In his early years, he farmed in Nandi, but in search of greener pastures and better work he moved to southeastern Kenya and managed to secure a job at Wildlife Works in 2012. He had no printing skills when he joined but as time went by he learnt the skills through observation and training from his colleagues.

Today, Allan helps out with all sorts of roles around the factory, including testing the first lay of screen till they are perfect and ready for production and maintaining the screens throughout the process to ensure sustained quality.

hand screen printing Allan at work in the Wildlife Works’ screen printing factory

hand screen printing Allan is hardworking and an intelligent young man filled with energy and positivity about life. Since he joined Wildlife Works, he has saved money from his income and now owns a dairy farm in his home county, Nandi, where he employs someone to look after his business while he is away working. Allan also assists in paying school fees for his younger siblings, one of whom has finished his diploma, two of whom are in secondary school, and the youngest is still in primary school.

Despite Allan’s main challenge being that it is hard for him to manage his business due to distance, he is at the place in life he has always wanted to be – helping people and putting a smile on their faces. Allan has big plans for his future; he wants to one day be self-employed, grow his dairy business and be able to create more employment for others.

Thank you Allan for all your hard work, it’s been great to watch you grow and we know your future will be bright!

Fair Trade USA Certification – One Year On

The Wildlife Works’ factory, on the edge of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, became Fair Trade USA certified in the spring of 2015. We were the first carbon neutral, fair trade factory in Africa! Now, just over a year later, we have been producing Fair Trade USA certified garments for clients around the world, such as Threads for Thought.

Our factory was founded in 2001 on ethical and fair trade policies – back before the fashion industry even had the words to describe sustainable fashion. Buying ethically made clothing is a meaningful way to vote with your dollar for a healthier planet and happier people. Buying Fair Trade USA certified is a way to transparently track the supply chain of your clothes. Our factory in Kenya produces quality made garments that support the local rural population and protect wildlife and trees.

One of the most significant benefits of producing Fair Trade USA that makes a real impact on workers lives is the Fair Trade USA ‘premium’. The premium is 1%-10% of the manufactured price of a garment that the client pays directly into a factory worker’s fund. A democratically elected committee of workers, who collectively decide how to use the money, manages this fund.

Fair Trade USAA meeting of the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee of factory employees to discuss Fair Trade USA matters

Thanks to the vision of our fashion clients and the commitment of their buyers, this money helps to further local empowerment and economic development and has made a big impact on the lives of our workers in rural Kenya. Our workers have used their Fair Trade USA premium money (which to date is a total of around $130 per employee) for things such as paying off school fees for their children, growing or starting small side enterprises and improving their living standards to have luxuries such as electricity and running water.

Read some of the inspiring stories of our fair trade workers here.

fair trade usaElipina
Elipina Wakio is a helper in our factory. Elipina is a single parent and has two children in primary school. With nearly half of this money, she bought six bags of cement to plaster the floor of her house that was previously just a dirt floor. The rest went to clearing her children’s school fees and purchasing new school uniforms for them, clearing her water bill and buying food. “Fair Trade USA orders give me the morale to put more perfection and energy into my work bearing in mind that I will benefit financially at the end of it,” Elipina commented.

Fair Trade USAFestus
Festus Mutua, a sewing machine operator, started working with Wildlife Works in 2011. He is married and has four children, three of whom are already married and one who is in high school. Festus spent his Fair Trade premium money on clearing school fees for his youngest son and boosting his wife’s local boutique business. With the rest of the money he purchased two female goats in order to start a small goat milk business on the side to supplement his income from working in the Wildlife Works’ factory. “I’m so happy being part of Fair Trade USA and I’m grateful to the financial support that I’m benefiting from,” he says.

Fair Trade USAHalima
Halima Chaka is a sewing machine operator who started working with us in 2011. She has six children who are all still in school. Nearly three-quarters of her Fair Trade premium has gone to opening a business in the local village where she sells vegetables, clothes, food, and household goods. With her remaining money, Halima cleared school fees for all of her children. “I’m so grateful for the financial support I have got from Fair Trade USA and it is my wish that these orders come in more frequently!” She added.

Fair Trade USAElipina
Elipina Sezi is a machinist who started working with us in 2012, married and has two children who are both in school. Elipina is a hardworking woman. With her Fair Trade USA money, she has renovated her home bringing to it modern standards of living such as adding electricity and water plumbing. She wishes to have more orders from Fair Trade as it helps her to continue home improvements for her family.

Community
With the last Fair Trade USA order, the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee voted to divide the premium money between themselves and community projects. 75% went equally between the employees and the remaining 25% is earmarked to buy new school uniforms for two local primary schools in the Wildlife Works’ project area – Marasyi and Itinyi. Alfred Karisa, President of the Fair Trade USA Committee, commented, “I want to say thank you to the concerned people who are Fair Trade USA customers. This gives everyone in the factory extra income but also helps us raise the standards of living for our community. Our only wish is that more people chose Fair Trade USA.”

Wildlife Works Scholarship Recipient Joins the Team

“I get satisfaction in my job through putting perfection into my work,” says Zanira Kasyoka, one of the lucky recipients of a Wildlife Works’ scholarship that fully sponsored her secondary education. Her talents and hard work stood out and she is now fully employed as an assistant in the Wildlife Works’ carbon-neutral, eco-factory office.

zaniraMeet Zanira, first a scholarship recipient now an employee

Zanira comes from a humble background in the village of Itinyi, Taita Taveta County, within our project area in Kenya. She was brought up by a single mother together with her elder sister. She now lives with her mother and grandmother, as her sister has married and moved out. Zanira finished secondary school in 2011, at Bura Girls National School and scored a grade B- in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education.

After finishing school, Zanira was very grateful for the support from Wildlife Works and so she decided to apply to work as a contract laborer with us to show her appreciation and gain experience. She worked under a short-term contract in the greenhouse and as an office assistant where she worked very hard, and her sincerity and commitment shone through. After nearly two years, Wildlife Works was able to offer her a full-time job as an assistant in the eco-factory office in 2014. Zanira says she is very grateful and owes all her knowledge to Daniel, our factory manager, and Vicky, our factory office manager, who have mentored her from the beginning. Today, she helps out with processing orders, packaging clothes for shipment, shipping finished goods to our customers and bookkeeping.

zaniraZanira now works for our eco-factory. One of her responsibilities is to help with packaging clothes for shipment. Here, she’s packing an order for our client Globein. 

Ever since she joined Wildlife Works, her family life has never been the same again. Even at only 24 years old, Zanira is now the breadwinner in her family and she provides food and clothing for her mother and grandmother. Despite her main challenge of lack of school fees, she still has hopes and future plans that she will join university and pursue nursing.

zaniraEven though Zanira loves her job, she dreams of continuing her education further down the line

Zanira is one of more than 3,200 local students who have been awarded over $260,000 in education scholarships since 2004. This funding comes through distributing the profit made from selling carbon credits and is one of the ways in which Wildlife Works supports the local community, by realizing the value of the natural world and making the wildlife work for people.

Agriculture Mentor Program for Local Community Groups

Wildlife Works runs an organic greenhouse on-site at our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya. Here, we raise indigenous tree seedlings that we donate to the community to help reforestation efforts as well as test growing techniques for local growing conditions. One of our main objectives is to run tours and training for anyone who wants to learn alternative methods for growing in the semi-arid, drought conditions of the Tsavo region.

Some of the best practice growing methods we teach include water conservation through techniques such as vertical farming (where water trickles vertically down a pod watering more plants rather than draining away into the soil) and introducing people to crops that grow suitably in the local soil and with minimal water. Through this training, we hope to encourage activities that reduce reliance on traditional slash and burn agriculture and assist with water conservation.

In the past year, Wildlife Works has expanded this agriculture mentoring work into supporting several local women’s groups in setting up their own greenhouses within surrounding communities. Two new community greenhouses are now up and running in the villages of Marungu and Bungule where women are growing tomatoes, spinach, beans and more to sell. Wildlife Works’ role was in managing arrangements with suppliers, advising on crop planning and best practice, providing labor for and supervising the building process, nurturing seedlings for planting, and, in the Bungule village case, securing funding.

greeenhouseGeorge Thumbi, Wildlife Works Greenhouse Manager, helps install irrigation

greenhouseWildlife Works employee connects a water barrel on site

greenhouseCompleted greenhouse in the village of Bungule

greenhouseGeorge advising local women on best practice growing techniques

This work is part of Wildlife Works’ efforts to increase the capacity of local communities for self-sufficiency and get them away from depleting the forest.

 

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About Wildlife Works Carbon

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

Reproductive Health Education and Support for Wildlife Works Communities

Within the captivating yet isolated hills of Sagalla, Taita Taveta County, Kenya, 20 women and two men came together to form a self-help group with the objective of improving reproductive health. Rauka Reproductive Health Group meets at the Sagalla Health Centre under the auspices of the Sagalla community health unit.

reproductive healthMembers of Reproductive Health Group

Hygiene is a common concern for people living in poverty in developing nations. Rauka Reproductive Health Group felt the need to address issues that are related to reproductive hygiene, especially menstruation hygiene, to assist women and girls in the area. With this initiative, the group has been able to reduce traditional birth deliveries where now pregnant mothers are escorted to health facilities for safe delivery. This helps to prevent mother-to-child transmission of diseases, particularly HIV. The group also has home-based care where they conduct home visits to HIV patients to ensure individuals take their medication.

reproductive healthMembers of the group making reusable sanitary towels

Wildlife Works supports local health groups in various ways to improve the health status of local people. For example, a major challenge facing Rauka Reproductive Health Group is insufficient raw materials. We provide a solution by providing scraps from our eco factory for this group to make affordable, reusable sanitary towels to help those who cannot afford disposable sanitary pads.

reproductive health Wildlife Works community relations officer, Emily Mwawasi giving out scraps to the group

Supporting the Community that Supports Your Production

The SOKO Community Trust is the community outreach arm of the ethical clothing factory, SOKO, that operates within the same Export Processing Zone as Wildlife Works and with whom we share knowledge and implement community projects.

Soko and their clients invest in initiatives that support the community in which they produce: Maungu, Kenya, where Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project operations are based. The SOKO Community Trust’s initiatives aim to provide people with the practical skills needed to lift themselves out of poverty.

On 22th June 2016, The Trust celebrated the launch of two new programs: Stitching Academy Hub and the Pipeline Roadshow

asos foundation kenya soko launchWildlife Works Community Relations Officer, Joseph Mwakima, presents at the Launch event

Stitching Academy Hub

The Stitching Academy Hub is a new sewing machine facility that offers graduates of the Stitching Academy, a seamstress training facility run by SOKO Community Trust, use of industrial sewing machinery for the further development of their sewing skills, career development, and technological skills advancement. The Hub seeks to provide a platform for innovation and creativity in creating viable business ideas as well as strengthen Academy graduates:

  • Entrepreneurial culture,
  • Business education,
  • Financial and computer literacy, and
  • Employability skills.

asos foundation kenya soko launchStitching Academy graduates wave hello from the new Stitching Academy Hub

asos foundation kenya soko launchStitching Academy graduates dancing to celebrate the Hub Launch

The Hub launch ceremony was attended by County administrators, local chiefs, religious leaders, members of the community as well as a team of representatives from the ASOS Foundation, the charitable division of the large online retailer ASOS, which provides funding for SOKO Community Trust’s projects.

The nine students who have so far graduated from the Stitching Academy’s three-month course also participated in the launch. Milka Mwende, who was unable to complete primary school, graduated from the Stitching Academy, said that she loves sewing and she hopes to make a living out of it using the Hub facilities.

The main benefit of the Hub is to help young people like, Milka, who struggled in school gain practical skills and find ways to sustain themselves.

asos foundation kenya soko launchMilka Mwende practices her newly acquired sewing skills at the Stitching Academy Hub

Rob Dodson, Vice President African Field Operations Wildlife Works, spoke during the launch saying that the Stitching Academy Hub help to bridge the difficult gap between education and finding full time work.

Pipeline Roadshow

The SOKO Community Trust also launched the Pipeline Roadshow, a traveling team of professionals who train, support and offer services to the local community. The launch services provided free eye exams by experts and trained community members from the Kwale District Eye Centre. The Pipeline Roadshow’s goals are to support:

  • Financial literacy,
  • Family health and planning,
  • Young women’s health, and
  • Free eye clinic.

asos foundation kenya soko launchCommunity members waiting to be seen by eye doctor

asos foundation kenya soko launchWoman from the community receiving an eye test from women trained by the Kwale District Eye Centre

asos foundation kenya soko launchElderly woman being examined by the eye doctor

asos foundation kenya soko launchCommunity members receiving eyeglasses and eye drops

The Maungu eye clinic screened over 230 patients, distributed nearly 150 eye drops and 90 glasses, and identified nine patients for cataract surgery. All services were free, except the glasses, which cost 50 Kenyan Shillings, the equivalent of 5 US cents. The Pipeline Roadshow will now continue to a further five villages around the Kasigau area to bring health and entrepreneurial benefits to the local communities.

Wildlife Works, SOKO Community Trust and ASOS Foundation believe these initiatives are a key strategy for stimulating self-employment and creation of jobs and will continue to work together to bring these benefits to the local community.

Motivational Speakers Inspiring Local School Kids

Wildlife Works runs a program of education initiatives for youth within our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project area. We strongly believe that children are ambassadors for change and for environmental stewardship and we work hard to empower them to do so.

One of the programs we run is a series of motivational speakers that deliver talks to local students. They are individuals from the community who have an inspiring story to tell and lessons to share with youth.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 3.59.47 PMA motivational talk given under a neem tree at Marungu Primary School

Since starting in 2014, we have held motivational talks at 16 schools, reaching well over 1,000 students. The aim is to inspire a new generation of kids to work hard, pursue education and to raise themselves out of poverty.

The Kasigau area has one of the highest rates of unemployment in Kenya, and impoverished local people have little alternative than to turn to the land for survival. With education, people have access to more opportunities and, with awareness, can make informed choices that do not degrade their environment.

Apolinari Mwakulomba is one of our speakers. He is a successful businessman originally from a very humble background within the Kasigau region. During one of his motivational talks at Marungu Primary School, he recounted how he used to walk very long distances to school, but that with hard work he managed to attend a national (more exclusive) school and raise himself out of his situation.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 3.59.57 PMApolinari Mwakulomba questioning student during a talk at Marungu Primary School

Apolinari encouraged the students to set goals for their lives. He asked them, “What do you want to be?” One young boy stood up in the crowd and answered in English, “I want to be a pilot.”

“Are you good at mathematics?”
“Yes.”
“Are you good at science?”
“Yes.”
“Then congratulate yourself. If you want to be anything, work hard and you can do it. If you set yourself goals, you have the motivation to work hard.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.00.10 PMMarungu Primary School students listening keenly to a motivational talk

Accompanying the motivational community speakers, a member of Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Department, Protus Mghendi, gives a talk about the importance of environmental conservation and the value of nature.

The motivational talks are part of a wider program to raise awareness and enthusiasm for environmental and conservation issues. The highest performing students from the schools visited are offered the opportunity to visit the Wildlife Works site for a tour of the operations, including eco-factory and greenhouse, as well as attend a game drive to spot wildlife. Read about this program here.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.00.22 PM

Greater Good and Soles 4 Souls Donate Boots to Rangers

Greater Good, a charity organization that is based in the United States working to protect people, pets and the planet, partners with Wildlife Works on a variety of projects, including producing apparel at our eco-factory in Kenya and raising money for our projects through activities in the U.S.

Last year, Greater Good paid a visit to the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya and saw a need for our rangers to have new boots. The effectiveness of our patrolling ranger staff is critical to protecting the 500,000 acres of the project area from poaching of wildlife and deforestation.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 1.15.01 PMHead Ranger Erick Sagwe distributing shoes.

Greater Good worked with their partner Soles 4 Souls, an organization which facilitates the donations of both new and used shoes globally, to connect to the American outdoorsy shoe company Keen. Keen, like all shoe companies, produce hundreds of sample shoes a year, and were able to ship 200 pairs of new sample boots to Kenya. This shoes were enough for our 85 rangers and 15 security staff to be gifted with two new pairs each. Each pair was even labeled with a ranger name so everyone would receive their correct size and style!

According to Eric Sagwe, Wildlife Works Head Ranger, the shoe donation came at the right time, as the old boots were worn out. “The shoes are comfortable and light compared to the previous heavy boots. The durable hard rubber soles are ideal for walking long distances in the bush without getting tired but being well protected during animal and poaching tracking,” he adds.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 1.15.07 PMOne of the rangers putting on the shoe

The ranger team at Wildlife Works is particularly happy because the multi-purpose, cool new shoes can be used both in the bush and also in everyday life. A big thank you to Greater Good for your donation!

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 1.15.13 PMAll of our rangers and security rangers received the shoes

THANK YOU GREATER GOOD AND SOLES 4 SOULS!

Wildlife Works Head Ranger Eric Sagwe

Eric Sagwe grew up in a town within our Kasigau Corridor project in Kenya called Maungu. As a teenager, he used to see the Wildlife Works rangers working in the community and out in the bush. Their commitment to protecting and being surrounded by wildlife and forests impressed young Eric and he began to dream of one day also wearing the Wildlife Works uniform.

wildlife ranger, kenya, Tsavo East National Park, anti-poachingHead Ranger Eric has been with Wildlife Works over 10 years.

With hard work, discipline and his late father’s urging, Eric made his dream come true. Today, Eric proudly holds the position of Head Ranger, leading a team of 120 at Wildlife Works Kenya. It took him 10 years to work his way up through the ranks after initially being hired as a watchman.

Having interviewed for a ranger position at Wildlife Works, Eric was disappointed to be offered a job as a watchman for the buildings around the office. It was under the advice of his father, a Kenyan police officer, – “don’t be choosey about what you want to do, what matters is how you do it” – that Eric accepted this first position.

True to his father’s counsel, Eric worked hard and after only four months of being a watchman he was called for another interview and offered his first ranger job. He was finally able to work in and patrol the bush, still the favorite part of his job.

Since then Eric has dedicated himself to protecting the 500,000 acres of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project. He is constantly pushing for progress like offering to operate the first security cameras and setting up a communication center to coordinate and disseminate information from all the field rangers.

kenya, wildlife rangerEric and some of his rangers [photo by Peter Z. Jones]

Eric manages a robust, effective program. His ranger patrols are strengthened by armed Kenyan Wildlife Service rangers who provide protection against armed poachers. There is enhanced close cooperation with the local community including a network of informants. He also organizes specialty training programs for his team such as first aid and drill practices.

kenya, wildlife rangerWildlife Works Rangers on a mission

Eric has lead many successful anti-poaching missions in the last few years, which have resulted in several arrests, including one where he and his rangers tracked a poacher for 23 km! Incidents of wildlife poaching have gone down significantly over Wildlife Works lifespan and there are signs that the main perpetrators of elephant poaching in the area have been apprehended. Also, the patrolling ranger teams have been systematically removing wire snares from the bush and now go weeks, sometimes a month, without coming across any. Just the other week they rescued a young buffalo that was trapped in a snare.

Eric is a commanding force (it helps that he is about 6.5 feet tall!) who cares deeply about the environment and wildlife in Kasigau. Watch Eric tell his story himself:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.21.16 PM

Wildlife Works – Eric, Head Ranger. Rukinga Sanctuary from Wildlife Works on Vimeo.

Scholarship Student Dreams of Medical School

“The greatest danger facing modern society today is not of dying without achieving your dreams but dying without dreaming at all.” This is the motto by which Sophia Tsenge lives. Sophia comes from a humble background in a family of seven, in Sasenyi Village in Taita Taveta County, Kenya, and is one of Wildlife Works education bursary beneficiaries.

One of the core ways in which Wildlife Works supports local development is through distributing the profit made from carbon credits back into conservation project’s communities we serve. Much of the funding programs go towards supporting community groups who submit needs proposals for committee approval.

Another major funding funnel is our education sponsorships. Since 2004, more than 3,200 local students have been awarded over $260,000 in education scholarships, helping to give opportunities to a generation of rural students in our project area.

kenya education, communitySophia Tsenge, Wildlife Works education bursary beneficiary

Sophia is one of these lucky ones. When Sophia’s parents divorced seven years ago and her grandmother took responsibility for the children. Living in a grassy, thatched house with mud floors and a lack of beds, affording the next family meal was sometimes a challenge.

That, however, was not a barrier for Sophia in pursuing her education and the right to education became a strong pillar in her life. “Attending school came with a lot of difficulties. My grandmother had no money to pay for the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) funds but I would still come to school without having paid any fees,” she says.

kenya education, communitySophia outside her old primary school in Sasenyi

Despite all the difficulties, Sophia worked hard and managed to score high marks in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. This earned her an opportunity to join Voi Secondary School, a provincial school in the county which only accepts high scoring students.

At this stage, money became a major problem and her grandmother sold a bull in order to pay for her boarding requirements and fees. In Form One, Sophia would be sent home three times a month to collect school fees.

But her perseverance paid off. As a result of her good grades in Form Two, Sophia’s biology teacher connected her to the Wildlife Works Sponsorship Program. She was accepted into the program and Wildlife Works paid her school debts and 100% of her fees up to Form Four. She worked as hard as she could and scored a grade of B- in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam.

Now Sophia is dreaming of her future; she is aiming to join Mt. Kenya University to pursue clinical medicine in September this year. “In ten years time, I would like to be working to help sick people. I would also like to mentor others on how they can achieve in life, especially girls,” Sophia says.

Sophia has a big heart and she wants to not only help the sick but also her community. As she waits to join university, she is teaching at her old primary school and inspiring the students to work hard despite their challenging circumstances.

kenya education, communitySophia in class teaching

She adds, “I thank Wildlife Works for their firm support and urge to embrace education. If it were not for them I could not have managed to go to secondary school.”

The Wildlife Works community is happy to have supported Sophia in her education and wishes her all the best in her future endeavors.

 

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About Wildlife Works Carbon

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.