Amidst the Trademark war ranging between Kenyan Art & Craft Traders and a UK firm over the Kikoi, a Trust by the traders for the traders has been formed.
Barely 3 months old, Maasai Market Empowerment Trust(MMET) is a Non Governmental Organisation with over 1,000 members which was established to represent more than 5,000 traders based at the Maasai Market and other artisans spread through out the country.
The Trust was formed due to the need for an organization that understands the intricacies of Intellectual Property as well as appreciate the cultural, economic and historical value art has in a country and its people.
It will not only seek to protect such products like Lesso or Akala, it will also ensure that every one of its members is educated on Intellectual Property, its impact and need to protect their inventions, this will be through workshops, seminars, campaigns and other awareness programs. The Trust also hopes to provide Micro-finance facilities to its members to further expand their businesses.
At a time when our ministry is saying one thing and doing the other( “Kenya will do all within its means to block a British firm from registering ‘Kikoi’ as its trademark,” Trade and Industry Ministry Permanent Secretary David Nalo said yesterday.) Yet, its the same ministry that co-hosted a Trade Fair dubbed “One product, one Movement”(refer to my previous posts for further info)
I attended the trade fair(which was poorly attended by both exhibitors and Kenyans). One thing that came out clear was, most of the exhibitors were Women’s groups and Societies that are using their artistic skills to eradicate poverty. Some of these groups are formed and funded by NGOs.
On talking to the traders, none( not even one) was aware of Intellectual Property laws, design theft and protection. This is something that MMET (Maasai Market Empowerment Trust) pointed out to the Ministry of Trade and despite applying for a stand at the Fair, it was declined, sighting late application.
You can now take charge of protecting our cultural artifacts and our artisans by becoming a member of the Trust. Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register or get more information about the Trust.