Do you believe ‘The world is at your fingertips’ ?? This belief may be showing its truth more and more every day. Your ability to reach the world through travel and the internet has afforded many opportunities that many would never image. The individual from a small rural part of the world now has the ability to touch those in large cities like New York and Tokyo. Which brings us to an unlikely pairing on paper but in today’s ever changing market, more common than not. How does a leather goods company from Spain connect with a Maasai Chief from Kenya? This is where opportunity and preparation meet.
Pikolinos is a Spanish shoe brand that forms part of the Pikolinos Group, a company whose activities range from tanning leather to having their own shops. Their story…
Maasai Tribal Chief Kikanae Ole Pere, or William as he is known in the West, is a Maasai warrior who was declared leader of his community in Kenya after his unwavering efforts to provide for his tribe. William crossed paths with the President of the NGA ADCAM Rosa Escandell and together started a long journey to raise awareness in the Maasai community to inspire them to build for a better future via their own economic resources outside of tourism. Together they created The Maasai Project.
Maasai Project is a design collaboration program with Pikolinos and the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Tanzania where the profits are given back to the Maasai women involved to provide hope and opportunity for a sustainable future through building their own economic resources while empowering women with greater rights and employment.
I had the honor to meet and speak with William at Benjamin Lovell Shoes in Center City.
— Guest contributor: Olumide Yerokun —
Olumide: How did the collaboration start between yourself and Pikolinos?
William: This all started from a dream I had that one day I’d be able build my own business, travel, and positively affect the people in my community. I was lucky to meet the owners of Pikolinos and present them my ideas and we were able to create the Maasai Project.
How has this project helped the women of the Maasai Tribe?
The project has allowed women to be self-sustaining in an environment that does not always foster a woman’s independence. Through the Maasai Project it was taught women entrepreneurship and allowed them to make wages for themselves feed their families and send their children to school.
Are there any plans or hopes to expand into other fashion areas?
Yes, working with Pikolinos has given us a great opportunity to see how well the woman’s designs are for shoes and since Pikolinos works with leather goods we would love for the women to design more. With this current project the women have been able to create bracelets and necklaces that are great accessories with the shoes.
Do you think this will inspire the youth to pursue more projects that allow them to affect their community and the world?
Yes, this was a part of my dream. I wanted my people to be able to have more opportunities to grow and learn. We’ve been able to create programs that help educate children. Through this we hope to expose children to more opportunities and have an interest in what they can do for their community and the world.
How do you think your leadership has changed the tribe for the better?
My leadership has opened the eyes of the community and how we view women. Before women were not as valued as they should be. Entrepreneurship has really allowed women to go above and beyond the Maasai Project and shown the strength and ingenuity of our women.
Do you have a favorite design?
Yes I have a favorite. They are all my favorite (laughs)!