Slow design and sustainability
For Mafundi design and sustainability go hand in hand. We strongly believe that what we create and the manner in which we create it will filter down to the end user and help to improve the world we live in. The origins of Mafundi’s products are crucial to our concept. They are made by hand by local co-operatives and women’s groups, which secure economically disadvantaged craftsmen and their families a regular income, good working conditions and a worthy life.
Moreover, the skills and techniques which have been passed on from generation to generation are now in danger of vanishing. When you buy a Mafundi product, you are helping to keep these ancient traditions alive.
Mafundi is swahili for craftsmen.
East Africa produces some of the world's finest cotton and has a long-held tradition of handloom weaving. However, most of the weaver-groups are challenged by the lack of access to high quality yarn in smaller amounts, the lack of product design and marketing skills and the lack of access to domestic and international markets.
Mafundi works with Pendeza, a weaving cooperative based based by Victoria Lake in Western Kenya. From its humble beginnings, Pendeza has for more than 35 years grown, hand-cleaned, hand-spun, dyed and hand-weaved organic cotton.
Based on their self-help strategy, Pendeza helps vulnerable and skilled women and youth to move from aid to trade by training them in the cotton value chain and thereby giving them the opportunity to improve their livelihoods and serve for themselves and their families.
The result of the slow and manual processing is cotton fabric of an exceptional high quality with long durability. Feel the difference!
Mafundi works with a local cooperative in Kenya’s Central Highland. The area is homeland of the Kamba people, who are reknowned as exceptional woodcarvers. Each woodcarver specializes in certain types of carving using indigenous wood types such as wild olivewood and jacaranda.
By working through the local cooperative, Mafundi ensures that the wood resources are managed and utilized sustainably and in compliance with Kenyan regulations. Moreover, the cooperative’s profits are directed back to the craftsmen, building stronger homes and communities by their own design.
The talented women behind Mafundi’s basket are from Machakos, which is renowned for their stunning basket weaving skills. This precious craft has been woven through the generations within families - passed from mother to daughter.
The weavers are from farming communities and live in a particularly arid part of South Eastern Kenya. Within these communities, women work the land they are given when they marry, and are responsible for supplying the food to sustain the family. But as widespread drought causes multiple crop failure, new and innovative ways to make money must be found.
Weaving and selling baskets gives families an alternative income that is ecologically sustainable. Sisal grass is hardy and grows well in hostile conditions such as these. Taking pressure off their vulnerable ecosystem and becoming less reliant on farming is essential for these communities to sustain themselves.
The women weave while chatting with each other, taking care of children and cooking. Basket weaving empowers women through work that is flexible, creative, and fairly paid, to support their families, their children’s education and their future.
Mafundi’s products are sewed at the fair trade certified workshop Kiboko in Nairobi, Kenya.
The inner pillow is produced in Denmark by SØMS. The exterior fabric is made of 100% cotton and has not been treated with any chemicals, dyes, or bleaches. The filling is duck feathers and down . All feathers are European and therefore comply with the EUs stringent animal welfare requirements. In addition, the pillows are OEKO-TEX® certified.
RAVI & TINE
Ravi Christensen founded Mafundi in 2018. He has lived and worked a large part of his childhood and adult life in East Africa and Asia. Ravi has a MSc in political science from Aarhus University and has a background in the UN and NGO sector. Tine is a graphic designer from the Danish Design School. She is Mafundi’s designer.