Pendeza Weaving Project was born in 1980 by Mr. William Okello on a verandah in the slums of Nyalenda Kisumu town. The project vision was to empower women and youth towards self-empowerment through self-employment. The project offices were later relocated to Nyamasaria, and with an in-kind donation of spinning wheels and handlooms from the British Government employed 5 more persons. The first woman to be recruited into the project was his wife, Mrs. Margaret Okello who later recruited more women into the project. Mr. William Okello founded the Enterprise after attending Technical Training on hand weaving, spinning, and dye in 1977 -1979 through the support of the German Government.
The project has grown over the years through cotton growing and value addition through local and international support from UK High Commission, The German Government, Aid to Artisan USA among others. In 2006, through the support of the Safaricom Foundation, the project launched a workshop in Kapiyo, Bondo sub-county with the vision of creating rural empowerment through self-employment in cotton growing, processing, and value addition. Through the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) and Action Aid Fund, the project has conducted pieces of training in cotton growing and processing, tie and dye, hand spinning, knitting, crocheting, and hand weaving. The project has since empowered over 500 families in eradicating abject poverty and transform communities. After 36 years Margaret and William have developed Pendeza to be where it is today with the help of other community members dedicated to seeing their communities being transformed.
Pendeza Weaving Project is seeking collaboration with local and international partners to empower local community members in digital literacy. Through this, beneficiaries will learn to transition from traditional face to face business to e-commerce. This is very important for social enterprises that will want to continue thriving in the COVID-19 era and even post pandemic. Failure to adopt digitalization now means undoing gains made towards ending extreme poverty.
Improving production is key to growth, but better when scaleup is environmentally friendly. Pendeza is seeking partners to develop green energy powered cottage textile industries at the community level. This is the best alternative in eradicating poverty as opposed to full blown heavy computerized machinery. Solar-powered cottage spinning and weaving machinery is less bulky and has a higher production capacity compared to the current traditional machinery. This will enable beneficiaries to work from home hence providing more convenience in the COVID-19 era.
Pendeza has partnered with Elixir Medical Group, a team of clinicians in Kisumu, towards a community-financed health care system. The goal of the partnership is to pilot an integrated & people-centered health service delivery towards Universal Health Coverage by providing the elderly and families working in the informal sector access to convenient medical care at a cost that is affordable and sustainable.