Initiating Self-Sustaining Employment Among Maasai Women

There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.

– Kofi Annan – 

MWCT supports the Maasai to diversify livelihoods beyond pastoralism.

Pastoralism has been the primary livelihood of the Maasai for centuries. MWCT supports Kuku Group Ranch residents to continue this livelihood in coexistence with wildlife, compensating herders for livestock lost to wildlife predation through the Wildlife Pays program.   

Large herds of a growing population place high pressure on the land, competing with wildlife for vegetation in the dry season. Moreover, an over-reliance on livestock leaves the Maasai vulnerable to shocks like drought and animal disease.

Employment at MWCT and our eco-lodge partner, Campi ya Kanzi, is a significant economic benefit to Kuku residents, and directly demonstrates benefits from conservation.

Over 95% of our staff, including those in leadership positions, come from the local communities.

With a focus on women, MWCT also supports the Maasai to explore other income generating activities. While widespread illiteracy poses a challenge, MWCT pursues creative ways to build financial understanding and grow the capacity of the Maasai – especially women – to run profitable enterprises.

A New Course / MPowerd: Luci Solar Lights (photo: right)
The goal was to not only reverse the negative health effects from the kerosene lanterns traditionally used, but also to provide a platform for the women to establish an alternative income generating enterprise for themselves. By saving money from no longer purchasing kerosene, the women were able to contribute regularly to an enterprise that would benefit them in a sustainable way.

Women's Groups
Colonized Bee Hives
0 %
MWCT Staff Hired from Local Community
Total Luci Lights distributed via A New Course



When introducing a new income generating opportunity, MWCT first researches the market and demand for the product. Due to remote locations and long distances in Kuku Group Ranch, some products that would be profitable in towns are not economically viable here. However, tourists provide a unique market – currently for beadwork, while plans to expand the tourism value chain into other local products are underway.


Within MWCT’s overall goal for conservation on Kuku Group Ranch, MWCT only encourages new income generating activities with a negligible or positive environmental impact. Livelihood activities with positive environmental potential include selling solar lanterns, growing grass for forage (improves water retention) and bee raising (bees can act as a deterrent to some wildlife around human settlements).


Livelihoods diversification itself is a resilience strategy, as households have an alternative source of income to fall back on if a major shock (i.e. drought, subsequent loss of livestock etc) hits one of their income generating strategies. As the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust looks for new income generating strategies for Kuku residents, we prioritize those less susceptible to likely downward swings.