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Located in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a UNESCO Heritage site. The conservation area is a game park, also inhabited by local of which the Maasai tribe is the most populous.
The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge (NNSL) has been part of the NCA since 1996, and is one of the few safari lodges in the area. Working closely with local communities and individuals that surround the lodge, NNSL does what it can to contribute and support them.
In 2010, Maasai community member Chipapa Ole Moko approached several lodges in the Conservancy Area with a business proposition. His team wanted an opportunity to sell their handmade goods within the lodges to tourists. NNSL embraced the idea as an opportunity to help support local people, as well as providing guests will a full experience of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and an opportunity to purchase locally made products.
For six years, Chipapa and a team of women have set up a “mini Maasai market” within the Serena lodge. The business employs 25 people with five of the women working at the Serena location.
The team of entrepreneurs work together to create the products to sell across NCA. The women also make some of their products on site to demonstrate their creative craftsmanship to guests. The Conservancy Management help teach the Maasai community finance skills such as recordkeeping to help the team keep track of their business.
Profits from the Maasai venture are split amongst the team and used to buy food and clothing for families, and pay school fees. Farming and agricultural activity are not allowed within the Conservancy Area, therefore selling within the Ngorongoro lodges is the only source of income for these Maasai entrepreneurs.
NNSL has been a strong supporter of Maasai artisans for years, with hopes to continue to support them in the future. Not only does Serena provide the team with a space to sell their products, but also purchases their items to be used around the lodge (e.g. wall/door décor, toothpick holders for the dining tables, etc.) The team of Maasai artisans is now working towards perfecting their products in order to sell them directly to Serena Hotels for sale within hotel gift shops.