MWATATE, Kenya, Oct 14 – International gemstone training and sourcing program, Moyo Gems, has confirmed plans to expand its effort to promote responsible mining to the Kenyan market beginning in Taita Taveta.
Moyo Gems, a responsible gemstone collaboration that was ‘born’ in Tanzania in 2019, has captured the world’s attention with its focus on the artisanal and small-scale gemstone miners of East Africa.
The partnership funded through Extractives Global Programmatic Support Multi-Donor Trust Fund (EGPS) of the World Bank, will support key training programs on Gemstone Value Chain and Mining Health and Safety and other related topics.
A pre-selected pilot class of artisanal and small scale (ASM) gemstone miners will be trained in Taita Taveta County in what will culminate in a first purchasing event.
A key part of the Moyo Gems program is its emphasis on women miners.
“Women form both the beginning and the end of the jewellery supply chain,” Moyo Gems co-founder Cristina Villegas, who is the director of mining at the nonprofit Pact International said on Thursday.
“One of the reasons that Moyo has become so beloved around the world so quickly is because we really focus on women miners, elevate them, and bring new resources into an area.”
Villegas however added that some men are allowed into the program, but only under parameters set by women miners of the region.
The collaborators in Kenya include Pact Kenya, Pact Tanzania, the County Government of Taita Taveta, and the Association of Women in Extractive Industries in Kenya (AWEIK).
Taita Taveta Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui, who has been a long-time ASM coloured gemstone advocate, said the county government was keen to implement programmes to empower women socio-economically across the county.
“I am excited that in addition to the farming programmes, for example, we are now able to enter the gemstone mining space with an economically impactful initiative for artisanal miners across the value chain,” she said.
“Moyo Gems has done superbly well in Tanzania and we look forward to replicating that success with miners, gemstone traders and jewellery artisans uplifting our Taita Taveta hidden treasures such as Tsavorite gemstone and converting the mineral potential into economic wealth for our county utilising the novel Everledger gemstone blockchain technology for increased transparency and traceability,” the Deputy Governor added.
AWEIK Chief Executive Officer Hannah Wang’ombe said the association was keen to support the implementation of the program.
“The Mine To the Market approach of the program will ensure that low, medium and high-value gemstones are traded and that majority of the beneficiaries, who are women, will economically benefit,” she explained.
“The program couldn’t have come at a better time, because since the COVID 19 pandemic in early 2020, many gemstones miners have struggled with accessing markets due to impeded travel by buyers and sellers. Further, this is a program that guarantees ethically sourced gemstones from Kenya to the end international buyers,” Mwang’ombe added.
Moyo Gems was created in Tanzania by international nonprofit organization Pact, the Tanzanian Women Miners Association (TAWOMA), technology company Everledger, and international traders ANZA Gems and Nineteen48. Since then, Maison Piat and others have joined as regular buyers.
The initiative has been profiled in British Vogue Magazine, Forbes, among many other mainstream and gem trade publications.
In Kenya, the Moyo Gems program will commence with an international study tour that will bring selected Kenyan miners and officials to Tanzania to observe the Tanzanian program in action and to identify ways to craft the program to the Kenyan context.