Handcrafted by Shanga

Handcrafted by Shanga

“Shanga”, meaning bead in Swahili, is a social enterprise founded in 2007. Today, Shanga’s custom-built workshop is based in Arusha, Tanzania, the gateway to the northern safari circuit.

Shanga currently employs over 50 artisans, 34 of who have a disability. The team’s focus is “Ability over Disability”. Shanga’s artisans are weavers, glass blowers and beaders. They also specialise in paper-making and metalwork. For every technique, the artisans use recycled materials as much as possible.

“In summary, the heart of our message is: Be kind and recycle. As a result, we provide a safe, consistent and loving environment for Tanzanians with disabilities to work and receive training. We also use discarded materials to positively contribute to the highly sensitive ecosystems in Tanzania.”

Raw Materials 

100% Pure Cotton: Shanga only uses locally grown, pure cotton.
Beads: Traditionally the Massai produced beads from bones, clay, wood, chips of glass, brass and copper. Today the beaders use a variety of beads including many made from recycled glass. At Shanga, the artisans use two methods including the traditional baking method used for centuries in making the famous “Ghanian Trade Beads”


How does Shanga make its fabrics? 

Cotton Dyeing: Firstly, the artisans hand-dye the raw cotton thread over open fires. After that, they rinse the thread. Finally, they dry it in the sun prior to weaving.
Hand Weaving: The looms used at Shanga are locally made from ethically sourced wood. Each loom is named after its main weaver. As a matter of fact, the relationship between a weaver and their loom is a very personal one.
  Detailing: Everything is handmade. This also includes the finishing details
Packing: Each product also comes with a little card introducing you to the Tanzanian artisan who made it.


How does Shanga make beaded jewellery? 

Beaded Jewellery: All jewellery at Shanga is handmade using beads made from recycled glass, locally sourced beads and hand made metal components. Their unique designs mix traditional Maasai techniques with modern on-trend aesthetics.


By Fabi Alvarez: Fabi is a marketeer, product developer and sustainable living advocate with 18 years of experience in startups, not-for-profits and market leaders worldwide.

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