Baskets Full of Ideas

The Basket Makers

Origin

The vannerie club in Kirinda exists already since 1986.

56 women founded a cooperative to do bast crafting. The majority of the women are widows who come from the different regions around Kirinda. Some of them learnt the bast crafting, a handicraft existing for generations, from their mothers and pass their knowledge to the younger women. Since the beginning the bast crafting has been a traditional women’s work in Rwanda.

Every Wednesday the women of the vannerie club meet in their women’s house in Kirinda to practise the weaving of bast baskets and bast plates. The house where they meet is their own. Besides the common work on Wednesdays all women continue with their handicraft at home during the rest of the week. So they are able to arrange their time between caring for the kids, cultivating the fields, doing the housework, and making baskets. The work in the group brings a lot of fun to them and enables them to buy food and clothing for their families from the money they earn by selling their handicrafts. Part of the income from the bast baskets has to be left in the joint account of the cooperative, the rest is paid as wage to the women.

Cost and Income

The production of a basket takes about 2-3 weeks, the sales price varies between 3000 FRW (4 Euro) und 8000 FRW (9 Euro ). The production of a bast plate takes about 1 week. All in all the women are able to produce about 150 baskets per month.

Material and Sale

Obtaining the bast material is not a problem as there is enough bast in the Kirinda region. However, the lack of sufficient markets and transportation is indeed a problem. In Kirinda it is nearly impossible to find customers for the goods; so the women have to bring their baskets and plates by public transport to Kigali, the capital, hoping to find people for their products. There is no regular clientele and there is a lot of competition on Kigali market.

Baskets and plates can be purchased at JMfA (Young People for Africa). In case of interest please contact Melanie Bernau (eMail: Melanie.Bernau@t-online.de).