Located in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania, lies the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) – a UNESCO Heritage site. This conservation area is quite unique, as it is a game park site while also inhabited by local tribes – all within one enclosed area with the Maasai tribe being the majority.
The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge (NNSL) has been a part of the NCA since 1996, one of the few safari lodges in the area. Living as one with the communities and individuals that surround the lodge, Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge does what it can to contribute and support the local communities.
Six years ago in the year 2010, a Maasai community member by the name of Chipapa Ole Moko, along with a team, approached the various lodges in the Conservancy Area with a business proposition. The team wanted an opportunity to sell their handmade goods within the lodges to tourists. Ngorongoro Serena found this to be a good idea, as it not only supported locals within the community, but also provided guests with a chance to have a complete Ngorongoro Conservation Area experience by buying locally made products.
Within the last six years, Chipapa and a team of women set up a “mini Maasai market” within the Serena lodge. The business involves 25 individuals. However, only 5 of the women work at the Serena location, with the remaining members set up in different lodges and areas within the conservancy.
The team of entrepreneurs work hand-in-hand to create the products to sell across NCA. These products are made beforehand and brought on-site. Furthermore, the women also make some of their products on site to demonstrate their creative craftsmanship to guests. The Conservancy Management also teach the Maasais in the community financials skills, such as record keeping, in order to help the team keep track of their business.
Profits from the Maasai venture are split among the team and used to purchase food for families, clothing and pay school fees, to name a few. Since farming and other agricultural activity are not allowed within the Conservancy Area, selling these handicrafts in the various lodges within the conservancy is their sole source of income for the entrepreneurs.
Ngorongoro Serena has been a strong supporter of the 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 products 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 to be sold within the gift shops.