All our products are 100 percent handmade from sustainable materials. The materials used in Mifuko products are locally sourced from Kenya, both to promote sustainable Kenyan industries and to minimize transportation emissions.
Using locally sourced material is the main reason for using sisal in our baskets and bags. Sisal plants grow in the dry soil of Kenya where no chemical fertilizers are used in production.
Compared to other fibres typical in weaving, e.g. jute, rattan, seagrass, and water hyacinth, is more durable and anti-static. Sisal also takes dying better than seagrass or water hyacinth so it can be used to create different colours of baskets and bags.
Compared to rattan, sisal is a much softer material, allowing the baskets and bags to be formed into the shape you like.
We continuously work towards more sustainable material choices. Plastic has been used thus far due to its durability and predictable quality. Kiondo baskets made of plastic are easy to clean and can take water making them very versatile and suitable for outdoors too. Additionally, the plastic meets food grade standards which means that our products can be used in contact with food and are thus safe.
Mifuko uses upcycled plastic as much as possible. We design materials together with local factories. The amount of recycled or upcycled plastic varies. Black, white and grey baskets have at least 30 percent upcycled plastic. Unfortunately, the local factory that makes our plastic is currently not able produce other colours with recycled or upcycled plastic.
Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value. (Source: Wikipedia)
Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. (Source: Wikipedia)
Paper is a beautiful eco-friendly material. It can be fully recycled at the end of its lifecycle. The material is unbleached, light and durable. We have been developing paper suitable for our baskets together with a factory in Kenya to provide sustainable multi-function material for a variety of uses.
Milulu grass (Eleocharis acutangula) is a reed like flowering plant belonging to the genus of spikerushes that grows in tropical wetlands. The strong reed is woven into baskets with the traditional weaving technique in the village of Iringa in Tanzania.
Our Iringa collection is aeshetically pleasing and functional. Baskets made of milulu have beautiful structure and the reed makes the much stiffer than Kiondo baskets. Iringa baskets can't be folded.
Hand-woven Mkeka baskets are made by artisans in the tree covered hills of southern Kenya. The artisans gather the fallen palm leaves from Mkeka, a type of palm tree native to Kenya, and craft them into baskets. The tight weave makes baskets strong and durable, yet soft and pliable.
Our Turkana baskets and bags are hand woven from palm leaves. It is a durable and strong material, making it ideal for bigger baskets too. Palm leaves are an eco-friendly material, which is grown locally. Leaves are collected from riverbanks and the palm trees are left to grow.
The tall elephant grass (Cenchrus purpureus)grows naturally along the water edges in the north of Ghana. It can grow up to four meters tall and is also used to feed cattle and to lure moths away from maize crop.
Mifuko works with a Fair Trade workshop in Bolgatanga, Ghana to produce the Bolga baskets. Everything is made by hand. Artisans split the dried grass in two, twist them together making it pliable for weaving. Bolga baskets are light and flexible, but can't be folded.
Our ornaments and kitchen utensils are carved from freshly fallen twigs and branches of jacaranda trees, carved, dried, sanded, and then hand painted. We never cut down trees to make our products! Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) is native to South America, but can be found in other sub-tropical parts of the Globe too. It's broad canopy provides much needed shade.
Through MADE51, Mifuko collaborates with Congolese refugee artisan, Kapya Kitungwa and his workshop to produce our unpainted wood products. His workshop employs other refugees living in the area.
Husband and wife duo Nicodemus and Cecial, along with their helpers work diligently to create Mifuko's painted decorations. The ornaments are painted with water-based acrylic colours and varnish.
The ceramic material is mixed from clay that the workers gather from a local riverbed. Ornaments and other items are shaped by hand, glazed, and fired to give the glossy finish.
A workshop specialising in ceramics was founded by self-taught artisan Francis Ogenga in 2010 in Nairobi. His workshop supports the local community by bringing in and training young and unemployed members of the community, especially those that are marginalised.
We use locally sourced leather in our bags and baskets. Variation in the colour of the leather handles is natural as it depends on where and how the cow has been bred. The leather has been vegetable tanned, which is a process using organic material and natural tannins derived from the barks, leaves and branches of trees and plants. The leather is cut and stitched to the baskets by our skilled leather artisan partners using traditional techniques.