customer spotlight stories
The Leakey Collection™, an ACCTivate! user since 2005, grew from a will to protect the environment and a need to provide economic opportunity to the Maasai community in Africa.
The company is a wholesaler, distributor and manufacturer of fashion and home accessories for the contemporary global market, who produce their products from natural sustainable resources.
Distribution is handled at their U.S. office in Newport Beach, California, and their product design/manufacturing is based deep in the bush of Kenya, Africa, where the founders Philip and Katy Leakey live among the Maasai people.
Philip served as a member of the Parliament of Kenya for 15 years, a Deputy Member of the Cabinet for 14 years and a Member of Cabinet for one year. He is well-known in Kenya for his humanitarian efforts, especially in the areas of business opportunity and the environment.
Katy is an artist and designer. "Her interest as an artist has been to connect diverse cultures through understanding using art as a vehicle and lecturing in University systems in the United States," according to The Leakey Collection website.
Legendary accomplishments are a legacy within the Leakey family. Philip's mother, father, brother, sister-in-law and niece are renowned anthropologists. His parents Dr. Louis and Mary Leakey proved the existence of early man in East Africa and shaped the understanding of human origins after their discoveries of fossilized remains.
Philip and Katy Leakey may not be anthropologists, but they too have achieved and are paving the way for legendary accomplishments.
After a devastating drought in 2001 wiped out most of the Maasai's cattle, The Leakey's offered the Maasai women the opportunity to earn an income through their traditional jewelry making skills. Cattle being the main source of income for Maasai families, forced the Maasai men to leave behind the women and children to take remaining livestock elsewhere in search of better grazing. The women and children were left in dire need of food, medical supplies, clothing and education.
After the Maasai men left, the Leakey's began to support hundreds of Maasai women and children by providing food and other resources, but later realized they would be unable to do so forever. Motivated by their desire to continue helping they decided to offer the Maasai women employment opportunities that wouldn't interrupt their culture and traditional way of life.
"We try to make our business fit their [the Maasai] lifestyle rather than try to change their lifestyle to fit our business," Philip Leakey said in a World Challenge 08 video presentation.
Under large Acacia trees along the Rift Valley, the Maasai assemble ZuluGrass, a colorful, unique, fashionable jewelry designed by the Leakey's that stems from an abundant native grass harvested and chopped by hand into beads, dyed brilliant colors and combined with elegant Czech glass beads.
The women are paid by the piece as they choose to work and they can even have their small children by their side.
The Maasai have seen great benefits as a result of The Leakey Collection's efforts, including entrepreneurial opportunities and a higher level of respect from the men that the Maasai women wouldn't otherwise receive being that the man is traditionally the primary provider.
"Some [Maasai women] have been able to reunite their families after earning enough to purchase cattle to restock herds and one woman has bought her own goat herd," according to The Leakey Collection website.
In 2008, The Leakey Collection was selected as one of the 12 finalists in the fourth annual World Challenge 08, a global competition involving projects or small businesses that have demonstrated enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level.
In the future they plan to build a hydro-electric plant in Kenya to reduce their work stations' dependence on fuel oil and to help the future generations of the Maasai thrive.
The plant will bring more work opportunities to the Maasai women and power a business school that The Leakey Collection plans to build to promote the development of rural enterprise around the world, Katy Leakey said.
Read about The Leakey Collection as an ACCTivate! user.
Learn more about theThe Leakey Collection and ZuluGrass and other Leakey Collection products.
Company began as a way to help Maasai women in Africa earn income after a drought caused severe hardships
Handle distribution in the U.S. and design/manufacture products in Kenya, Africa
Maasai women use their jewelry making skills to assemble products in a traditional setting from natural sustainable resources
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