This beautiful country is known for a vast variety of things from its great sunset horizons and wildlife, to its colorful clothing materials and breathtaking landscapes. There is another side that is almost forgotten and swept away in all the beauty. Kenya is known to have one of the largest most developed economies in eastern and central Africa, however, 36.1% of its population lives below the international poverty line. This is due to a number of factors and if you add the growing population in Kenya to the list, you can naturally conclude that the availability of job opportunities is rapidly decreasing.
Within that statistic, there is another scale to be measured and that is gender equality or as the case may be, inequality. Women in Kenya still have to advocate for their equal rights to property, security, financial services, healthcare, education and so on.
One of our missions here at Ocean Sole, is to create employment opportunities in developing communities. As you may know a large part of Ocean Sole’s workforce consists of determined, persevering, hard working women. Ocean Sole has always strongly believed in the empowerment of women which is why we do everything we can to help them. Within Kilifi, where Ocean Sole has a collection and sorting facility, is based, chances of finding a job are very slim and chances of finding a job as a Kenyan woman are extremely slim. To make use of the word “impossible” would not be an exaggeration but a more accurate description of the matter at hand.
Here in Kilifi a large number of people are unable to find work, however, within Ocean Sole, we continuously try to give back to the people. We try to help both men and women as best we can. But since women are at a significantly lower advantage, we strive to help women within our community through providing them with a steady income so they can pay for their children's education, buy land or even simply have food on the table and pay bills. We believe that supporting our Kenyan women is vital to helping them fight and jump the inequality hurdles set in place ahead of them.
In a brief interview conducted in previous weeks, one of our team members elaborates on how we have helped her find her feet.
“Before working with Ocean Sole, I had no money. I had no means of income but I had kids to feed and bills to pay. My children couldn’t go to school because there was no money to pay the fees. I would try to sell fruit on the road but there is no tourism or I would only get one customer. My husband would try to go fishing but with all the plastic in the ocean, it is hard for him to make a catch these days because marine life is also dying.”
She continues further to say:
“Everyday I would try to find work cleaning cars at the petrol station or even trying to offer my cooking skills to small restaurants but because I am a woman, I never got the job. The employer would always choose the man, even if I could do better. One day I saw the Ocean Sole truck driving towards a shamba (a portion of land) and I wanted to see what was happening, so I followed. I saw that they were paying women to help them collect, clean, and sort slippers (flip flops). I also learned that they provide other jobs for women too such as creating animal sculptures. I had nearly run out of options at this point, so I asked one of the people working with team Ocean Sole if I could have a job. After some minutes and a few back and forth conversations, I was given a job.”
At Ocean Sole, we believe that working together is better. Which is why giving back to the community is a firm foundation to our mission. We want to help people, help themselves. We have a strong team of both men and women who come from all walks of life and each person has a different skill, talent or ability that we help nurture and develop so that one day, they can do things for themselves that once seemed impossible.
Check out our other blog on Kilfi Beach clean up to know more about Ocean Sole!