July 18 2011
Taking its name from the Kinyarwanda word for work, jewellery label Kora provides just that for innovative artisans living primarily in East Africa. Artisan Ben Omondi, founder of Bemos Craft Developers (an organisation that runs craft training programmes for young men and women in Nairobi’s Kibera slum), makes statement cuffs for Kora, while Joseph Njuguna, also in Nairobi, works with hammered brass.
“We are always on the lookout for new artisans who are not only skilled but serious about developing their product and business,” says Kora co-founder Amy Walker. All the artisans use recycled materials – everything from aluminium cast from old car parts to horn from African Ankole cows (the horn is purchased from abattoirs in East Africa where it would otherwise be discarded) – and Kora’s commissions make up as much as 80 per cent of their business. “There is significant opportunity for growth,” says Walker, pointing out that Njuguna’s first commission for Kora allowed him to hire an apprentice artisan.