PI with Paper

By John Baumann | 23 August 2023


A positive impact project does not always have to be about improving the well-being of an entire community or saving vast tracts of biodiverse landscape. Like the analogy of the child throwing starfish back into the ocean after thousands were beached during a storm, making a difference to just one or two is better than making a difference to none.

Ladies creating bags and necklaces from waste paper

Ladies at our Arusha office transform waste paper into bags and necklaces. 

Paper waste

Over the past few years, we have tried to move away from printed materials wherever possible, relying on electronic versions of the same and reducing the waste generated by those tangible materials with a limited lifespan. However, some items remain in a condensed format, such as the Asilia Gazeti, which is an in-house printed publication available in our camps. At the end of the season, these are removed from our camps to make way for the new edition, creating a supply of colourful, high-quality paper that would ordinarily find its way into our recycling.  Motivated by continually doing better, a new opportunity was identified.

Two of the ladies display some of their creations

Two of the ladies display a bag and some of the necklaces created from waste paper.

Sustainable income

Female empowerment is one of the overarching agendas within our positive impact space, which has led to the creation of the Dunia Camp female team, our support of the Maa Trust, and our work alongside USAID in the Tuhifadhi Maliasili Project. As we looked for a sustainable solution to dealing with paper waste, a suggestion was tabled for the creation of a new positive impact initiative working with a handful of women from the area surrounding our offices in Arusha, Tanzania. The concept revolved around using coloured paper to create necklaces and bags, which could then be sold in camp shops across the Asilia portfolio. The initiative would therefore reduce the amount of paper waste we are generating, whilst creating new employment opportunities and a sustainable source of additional income for a few individuals that desperately need it.

Paper strips are carefully cut and rolled to create paper beads, which are then strung together to create a necklace.

Strips of paper are carefully cut and then rolled to create paper beads. These are then strung together to create beautiful necklaces.

Four women, local to the Olasiti region of Arusha where our offices are based, were recruited to join the initiative and provided with training in how to create the bags and necklaces from sheets of paper. They all have multiple small-scale initiatives which offer a form of income, such as keeping livestock, knitting school jerseys, or making beaded items. This new initiative is another string to their revenue bow, as it only takes a few hours out of each day, allowing them time to continue with other activities. The women earn a salary from Asilia for their work, but they are also allowed to sell their products to their local communities if they are able. This initiative has had a marked and immediate impact on their economic well-being, aiding in the purchasing of food for their families, covering school fees, or buying feed for livestock.  

Travel with purpose

For us, this initiative has had the desired effect of reducing the amount of wastepaper recycled, whilst creating an opportunity for community development and female empowerment in Tanzania. The scale of the impact is tiny in proportion to the challenge or when compared to other community development projects in East Africa, but the initiative makes a difference to our waste generation and, more importantly, it makes a big difference to the four women and the dependants they support. 

The ladies display their finished products

The four women with their instructor are all smiles as they display their finished products. 

We operate several internal, Asilia-managed positive impact initiatives in both Kenya and Tanzania, as well as providing financial support to a variety of implementing partners who are already performing crucial work in wildlife, wilderness, and community development spaces. When you travel with Asilia, you are choosing to support and contribute towards these positive impact initiatives, giving your travel purpose, and making a meaningful difference in East Africa.

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