Horn & Bone Upcycling Brought to Botswana by The Supply Change
Last year, I visited the Mothers For All project in Botswana. My friend and co-founder, Robyn Scott, introduced me to her partner, Jenny Dunlop. We had a discussion about the resources available locally, their current use of paper beads and other possibilities to create unique products.
Diamonds are Botswana's biggest export. Beef is the second. I asked her what happened to the remains of cattle once slaughtered, and she told me that all the horns and bones are thrown away. For a country as large as Botswana, I thought that was a huge amount of waste and potential to create products from that waste. From my time spent in Kenya, I learned about upcycling, and thought there could be an income generating project created by upcycling horn and bone there as well. I connected her to Ben Omandi, the Head of Bemos Craft Developers in Kibera, Kenya. Jenny raised funds to bring Ben and his team to train men in Botswana to upcycle horn and bones into jewelry this past month.
Brothers for All was born out of Mothers for All because one of their mothers was brutally killed by her ex-boyfriend in a 'passion killing'. The organization vowed to look at the problem by bringing both men and women together to discuss gender- based violence while also introducing income-generating skills - the cow horn and bone for the men and other recycled paper products for the women. They hope to combine both horn with paper and get their local designers to come up with exciting new products. They are also planning to share skills, the men will learn how to make jewelry and the women want to make the cow horn and bone products. I think this is wonderful, as in Kenya, bone and horn upcycling is typically a man's job, and this would allow women to learn these skills in Botswana.
Jenny emailed me photos this week of the successful training which really made my day. They have planned more future trainings. Over the past two years, there have been challenges and triumphs along the way and this is one of those moments, where I'm really happy to see I've made an impact, by creating jobs and bringing an new industry of horn and bone upcycling to Botswana.