KICK Trading Ltd.

KICK Trading (Kisumu Innovation Centre of Kenya) is a registered company with artisans, staff and supporters holding shares. KICK Trading is based in Kisumu, a city of 800,000 with high unemployment and underemployment. Kisumu has a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, which affects many artisans and their families. KICK Trading focuses on creating employment and income generation opportunities for Kenyan artisans, working with disadvantaged artisans, and connecting artisans to global markets on fair trade terms. Artisans hold 20 percent of the company’s shares. Additional benefits include loans for school fees or emergencies, training, counseling, and product development and design help and access to global markets.


Some 70 percent of products are made from recycled material, including recycled wire, sheet metal, wrought iron, water hyacinth rope, papyrus, soda cans and waste paper.


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Fair Trade Saves Lives

Fair trade saves lives, said Mike Muchilwa of KICK Trading, a Ten Thousand Villages trading partner in Kisumu, Kenya. Read on for Muchilwa’s observations on the power of fair trade to help artisans survive crises such as Kenya’s recent post-election turmoil.



In recent months, the international media has been replete with horrific images of a formerly peaceful Kenya descending into mayhem. Youth brandishing machetes, destroying property and taking lives in full view of the media. Menacing policemen shooting unarmed protestors holding branches and calling for peace and justice. Women and children burnt to death in churches and homes by murderous gangs, all in the name of justice.



In addition to some criminals, many people involved in post-election riots were unemployed youth. Kisumu, located on Lake Victoria in Western Kenya, and the location of KICK Trading, suffered economic damage of more than $45 million, which will take as many as 20 years to rebuild. Thousands have lost their livelihoods, and crime has risen proportionally. Property has been looted and destroyed, and the city resembled a war zone.



International observers have recognized the need to address many underlying issues that have boiled to the surface following disputed elections in Kenya. Key issues have been unemployment, poverty and inequality. Kenya has the third worst income distribution in the world, with 20 percent of its population controlling half its wealth. Many unemployed people, desperate to earn a living, have been forced into the informal sector, popularly known as the “jua kali” (Swahili for hot sun). It is these producers with whom KICK Trading has worked since its inception. The organization has always seen the potential of these marginalized people who have been left out of the formal economy.



Many of those who were seen brandishing machetes, demonstrating and getting shot live in the same Kisumu neighborhoods as KICK's artisans. Many have grown up together and can put names on the casualties.



I believe many artisans would have joined the looting, destruction and death had it not been for fair trade. Others have been rehabilitated from crime and prostitution because fair trade gave them the means to earn an honest living. When fair trade opportunities are lost, we see the death, desperation and hopelessness arising.



Fortunately, all of KICK's producers were alright, with no reports of any having been harmed. Credit goes to partners like Ten Thousand Villages in the United States and Canada, as well as Trade Aid New Zealand, whose orders have kept producers working in spite of the hardships Kisumu faces. The recent chaos has strengthened KICK’s resolve to promote fair trade and benefit many more marginalized producers and desperate youth. With support from its trading partners, KICK can prevent a young life from becoming a death statistic—and prove that fair trade does save lives.

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