OTICART International Limited

In 1995 Claytone Ombasyi, a Christian businessman in Nairobi, Kenya, started OTIC, a privately held export and marketing company. Ombasyi, with professional experience in exporting and marketing, wanted to help local artisans connect with export markets. He operates his business with the utmost integrity and expects the same of others, encouraging artisans to consider their products a reflection of themselves and to use the products to share their vision with customers. OTIC provides export, packaging and quality control support for a number of small workshops in and around Nairobi. Depending on their circumstances, these small groups provide a variety of advantages to their artisans. Some offer training in wood carving, while others provide short–term, no interest loans. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from OTIC since 2001.


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Off the Street

Edward Murigi has come a long way from his days selling wire toys on the streets of Nairobi. Now an artisan working with Chuma Wires (part of OTIC), an artisan group based in the Dandora area of the city, Murigi benefits from regular work and a stable income. Not only is he able to support himself and his wife, he also sends money to his parents and other family members "up country."



Murigi comes from Maragua, a rural district in Kenya's central province. He grew up in a family in which his parents did not have enough money for food and clothing for all of their children; Murigi has three brothers and two sisters. As a young man he left home for Nairobi, hoping to earn money to help support his family.



Initially Murigi made wire toys himself and sold them on the street. He did not have a license, however, which made this work illegal and therefore risky. His business, and thus his income, were sporadic. Murigi then met up with Samuel Macharia of Chuma Wires, and has been working with this artisan group for the past five years.



"Please continue to buy our products so I can support my family," Murigi encourages Ten Thousand Villages. His hope is to work in Nairobi for several more years, until he has enough money to return to Maragua to help develop this rural area and to support his parents. "Cows are not obtained by lazies," says Murigi quoting a favorite saying of the Kikuyu, the ethnic group of which he is part. "Riches don't come to lazy people!" He points out that there are no outside agencies working in his home region, and no government assistance.

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