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Ensuring a Future

Shanga Shangaa, Tanzania

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Shanga Shangaa employees at the Shanga Workshop, Arusha
Shanga Shangaa employees at the
Shanga Workshop, Arusha

Shanga Shangaa, meaning "Beads Amazing", in Swahili, is a small business employing 42 disabled, mute and deaf people based near Arusha in Tanzania. The company produces a range of beautiful necklaces made from beads and a selection of silk, kanga, chiffon and voile coloured fabrics.

The company began producing shanga necklaces for a Christmas fair in Arusha in 2006. The success of the necklaces resulted in a more serious and sustainable operation being developed which now supplys retail outlets across Tanzania.

Saskia Rechsteiner has created the business using her skills and experience to develop the products in partnership with her employees. It is a priority of Saskia's to develop the creative skills of Tanzania's disabled community who miss out on the educational system and with it the chance of paid employment.

Employees at the workshop at River House, Arusha.
Employees at the workshop at
River House, Arusha.

Employees are actively encouraged to use their creative skills during their working day in developing new Shanga designs. They are also offered basic reading and writing tuition on a weekly basis by a teacher paid for by the business.

The Shanga bead is a glass bead made from recycled wine and drinks bottles collected from local tourist lodges and hotels around Arusha. Newer designs have introuduced a larger bead which is made from Coffee Wood. Because the coffee bush requires regular trimming, the surplus off cuts are used to make larger wooden beads for the shanga necklacles. These are placed inside fabric strips and then further decorated with painted glass or nickel-free silver beads on the outside.

A smiling and happy Employee!
A smiling and happy Employee!

The workshop is located in among a coffee plantation 5 miles away from Arusha Airport. These tranquil surroundings also offer a culinary experience at the River House in the gardens where visitors can have lunch, enjoying the chance to see the workshops and surrounding coffee gardens.

Business is diversifying by the minute! Glass blowing is underway creating a range of glass products made from recycled wine bottles.