Monthly Archives: January 2016

Disability is not and Inability: Buguta Disabled Group

Wildlife Works Partners with the Buguta Disabled Group

“Disability is not and Inability” is the motto of the Buguta Disable Group and they prove it to be true with every stitch they make while creating products that are sold to customers all over the world.

wildlife works buguta disabled womens group

Since 2011, Wildlife Works has been working with the Buguta Disabled Group, a group of 30 members who work to support eachother and their families, emotionally and financially. Membership is not limited to those who are disabled; family members of disabled people can also join, because as caretakers need just as much support!

wildlife works buguta disabled womens group

Lea Mvumba, known as Mama Lea in the community, the chairwoman, and her husband, Jacob, started the group in 2009. They had just moved to Buguta from Mombasa, where they were part of a similar group. She and her husband are both disabled and wheelchair bound, yet, in addition to creating crafts for the group, they have raised grown children, they garden and they raise chickens.

wildlife works buguta disabled womens group

Initially, the Buguta Disabled Group members focused solely on sewing. Since Wildlife Works and a Community Based Organization called Hadithi, started working with the group, they have expanded their product line to include baskets and beaded jewelry. For example, Wildlife Works buys the co-op’s small baskets to package our soaps.

 wildlife works buguta disabled womens group

Of the 30 members, eight now actively make baskets. Since Wildlife Works has started working with them, the co-op has received more visitors and they are making other products to meet demand. Recently, they started to create stuffed animals from fabric scraps from the Wildlife Works factory. They even make quilted Noah’s Arks, filled with miniature animals, stuffed with scraps from the Wildlife Works factory.

 wildlife works buguta disabled womens group

The biggest challenge the co-op has is marketing outside their local community. From January to May, their profits are low, because tourism is down. Some community members buy from them, but at a cheaper price and not in bulk. So, in addition to buying Buguta Disabled Group’s products, Wildlife Works also markets them to Kenyan retail shops, and connects them to international organisations wishing to source products from them.

wildlife works buguta disabled womens group

The co-op has recently acquired a plot of land, on which they would like to build a workshop and office so they can save money by not renting a workspace, and increase their creative capacity.

You can see more of the products they make here:

If you are interested in buying or designing products at wholesale from the Buguta Disabled group, please email

We hope to see the Buguta Disabled Group expand and grow in the coming years!

Community Relations Officer, Joseph Invited to Attend Conservation Youth Leadership Event During COP21

Wildlife Works Community Relations Officer Attends The Youth and Landscape Initiative in Paris

Our Community Relations Officer, Joseph Mwakima, has become one of our most visible spokespeople, representing Wildlife Works globally. In 2014, Joseph was invited to speak at One Young World in Dublin and in December 2015, he participated in The Youth and Landscapes Initiative organized by The Global Landscape Forum, a side event to the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC), in Paris.

Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Officer Joseph Mwakima speaking

Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Officer Joseph Mwakima speaking

Needless to say, we are infinitely proud of Joseph’s work and achievements. Before his trip to Dublin, he his only trip outside of Kenya was to bordering country Tanzania, where he was first invited to speak on stage on behalf of Wildlife Works. Since starting with Wildlife Works in 2011 at age 24, we’ve watched Joseph grow into a confident professional, passionate about educating his community and the rest of the world about conservation.

joseph Wildlife Works Youth and Landscapes Initiative

For COP21 in Paris this past December, The Youth and Landscape Initiative brought together 50 young innovators from all over the world to identify environmental problems and to propose solutions. The event covered topics such as right and tenure, finance and trade, measuring success, landscape restoration and education.

Participant groups were given a challenge, for which they had to come up with a solution and give a three-minute pitch to an expert panel made of conservation professionals from all over the world as if they were potential investors in their idea. Think, Shark Tank but for Climate Change! Joseph and his teammates tackled the problem of improving landscape education for rural farmers.

His co-presenters were Jhannel Tomlinson from Jamaica,a PhD student studying environmental science at West Indies University in Jamaica. The other was Diane Geurrier who is working with the Africa Climate Policy Centre as a researcher in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia but is originally from France. 

Their pitch proposed a solution to close the gap that exists between formal education and field knowledge. The group found that different landscape models exist, but not in one place.

Joseph Youth and Landscapes Initiative

They introduced the idea of an online landscape academy as a repository for the various landscape models that have already been developed by many of the institutions represented at the event. An online self-assessment tool would identify their agricultural-related competencies, including soft skills, such as their cultural understanding and technical skills, such as their agricultural knowledge. Based on the results, a customized curriculum that is appropriate to the registrants’ geographic region would be automatically developed.

People from around the world could contribute their best practices to solve landscape problems via an online community. For example, someone who has indigenous knowledge about African agriculture but wants to do agroforestry can learn from online materials or pose questions to the online community.

Joseph Youth and Landscapes Initiative

The youth participants met scholars, scientists, and climate change experts, who were at the forum to learn from these young minds. The majority of the expert panel, from The Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC), Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Danone, The Global Water Initiative, Repo Consultancy, and The World Bank, lauded the group’s presentation. The audience gave resounding applause to their presentation.

Joseph had great fun meeting and living with people from all over the world who share a common passion for the environment. A special thank you to the Global Landscape Forum, which sponsored the participants’ flights, and to ASOS, who sponsored Joseph’s in-country expenses. We are thankful that Joseph could be part of this collaboration of young people and scientists working together to tackle global issues for future generations.

Read more about the Youth in Landscapes Initiative.

Joseph was born in the Rift Valley province of Kenya in a town called Nakuru that has a population of 300,000 people. You can follow Joseph on Twitter @jaymwakima

The Real Sustainable Supply Chain

Jan 2016

By: Joyce Hu, Creative Director, Wildlife Works

What does an ethical production chain really look like for the end of the supply chain, where your products are actually made?

Wildlife Works Fair Trade Fashion

We can all point to fair trade practices such as living wages, legal working hours, child-free labor, and safe working environments. But nobody talks about the unsexy details; all the small business and design transactions up the chain that must take place in order to protect those workers’ rights.

Most consumers – even designers and buyers – have no idea how every decision at each step of the fashion production chain exponentially impacts the workers’ every day ability to survive and thrive.

vicky, wildlife works

For a small factory like us, cash flow is very tight. Every dollar of profit made is reinvested back into the community we serve. But most of our revenue goes towards keeping our workers employed, which is the foundation of our mission. Producing with us sustains jobs that replace harmful livelihoods such as poaching and selling illegal charcoal.

One of the first and most important business transactions with a Fair Trade factory is receiving the 50% deposit of the P.O. once the customer places the order. Our customers who include Threads for Thought, Greater Good and Raven & Lily, know that these terms are crucial in sustaining our factory. Most mainstream factories must accept post-ship terms where 100% payment is made only after the goods are delivered. These terms don’t support the average factory’s cash flow needs because of all the up front costs of doing production.

Wildlife Works fair trade factory

Not only are we required to purchase the fabric upfront, we have hefty overhead costs to keep 3 factories running in the middle of the remote bush. Of course our employees have to be paid to make the goods. The 50% invoice deposit is needed to cover all of these costs before and during production. For bigger orders, we have to gear up with contractors who must be paid weekly for their work.

Without the deposit, many small factory owners have to borrow money with high interest, which makes catching up extremely difficult. Even worse, if a factory or cooperative does not have the financial resources to pay their employees during production, many workers are forced to take personal loans with interest so high that they could be in debt forever. This happens often with small women’s group set-ups all over the developing world. In most cases, post-ship payment terms continues to feed the cycle of poverty.

Another important practice to a sustainable production chain is educating designers to design around sustainable resources, such as designing for sustainable fabrics and to maximize the factory’s accessible resources and skills.

Wildlife Works fair trade factory

Our clients are committed to getting creative with design and sourcing in order to find that perfect intersection between form and fair trade function. Many pre-design meetings take place before a collection is even considered. Designers also consult with us throughout the design process. This close design relationship helps to deliver within expectations while pushing up our skills and quality.

Lastly, lead times are made realistic for ethical production that protects workers. Price points are transparent and reflect true costs. The mainstream production system with its multiple brokers hides all of the delays and costs incurred due to various production challenges including power outages, last minute design changes, or material shipping delays. Jobs and labor can be shuffled around to meet deadlines, and nobody at the top of the chain knows the consequences of their requests. In a system where there is a lack of direct responsibility and knowledge, it’s always the end of the production chain that suffers, as we have seen with such tragedies like Rana Plaza.

Organic and ethical production does not fit into the mainstream production system of fast fashion where everything must be delivered cheaper and faster and squeezes the bottom of the supply chain. We encourage our clients to design from the factory up. Many sustainable brands, such as People Tree, recognize this as a cornerstone of sustainable production.

Wildlife Works fair trade factory

These practices are just the tip of the sustainable production iceberg, but they represent a new way of producing that looks after humans beings and protects wildlife and our environment first and foremost.

As consumers, we can take small, easy steps towards being more conscious fashion shoppers.

Where No Evil offers practical, least harmful fashion choices to make your closet greener without sacrificing style.

Watch True Cost (available to watch on Netflix) to see a 360 view of how the fashion industry can negatively impact people around the world and everyone along the production chain, including you the consumer.

Here are some easy guidelines to make you a more conscious fashion shopper:

  1. Always choose 100% natural fibers (like wool, cotton, silk) because they biodegrade.
  2. Make a conscious effort to learn about the supply chain of your favorite brands.
  3. Buy used and vintage.
  4. Buy quality over quantity. Keep your favorite, high quality clothes for longer, buy less and slow the rate of filling landfills.
  5. If you must buy synthetic, 1. look for clothing made from recycled synthetic fibers 2. stick to unblended garments so that it can be recycled back into that synthetic fiber. The technology to recycle blended fabrics (i.e. polyester/cotton blends) has not yet been developed. 3. For recycling: H&M and North Face stores have recycling bins.

Some of our favorite resources for sustainable fashion and reuse fashion:

People Tree
Amour Vert
Indigo Handloom
Threads for Thought
Asos Africa
Thred Up

Wildlife Works has a permanent hidden link to samples for sale here:

Have fun being conscious consumers!

Orphaned Baby Zebra Rescued

In the early morning hours of January 8, 2016, Maungu villagers found a six-week old zebra chasing traffic on Mombasa Road, as if it were its herd. They alerted Wildlife Works rangers, who collected the zebra and brought it to Wildlife Works Headquarters, where staff comforted her.

rescued zebra Wildlife Works

zebra rescue Wildlife Works

Rob Dodson, Wildlife Works Vice-President, African Field Operations, and Joseph Safari, Wildlife Works Ranger, transported the zebra to the Kenya Wildlife Service/David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Voi Stockades for orphaned animals.

The zebra was warmly greeted by the other curious stockade orphans, including an 18 month-old zebra, a young buffalo, and three elands.

zebra rescue Wildlife Works

After her initial anxiety from the morning commotion wore off, the zebra drank a full bottle of milk.

zebra rescue wildlife works

zebra rescue Wildlife Works

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust keepers assessed the zebra to be in good health, having been alone probably less than 24 hours. Many thanks to the Sheldrick team for raising this foal and releasing it back into the wild. Despite its precarious start in life, we wish the zebra a healthy future.

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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.


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.