Beacon Of Hope is a Faith Based Organisation in Ongata Rongai, near Nairobi. They have many tapestry and fabric looms as well as a stitching room. The centre is used for training and production of cotton, acrylic, wool and other fibres. They export rugs and home textiles to the USA as well as selling locally. Since 2002, when they started, they have trained about 200 weavers and over 3000 craftworkers.
David says, “In the early days, raw materials were readily available. When I started weaving by seeing someone doing it somewhere, and I loved the skill, I saw the end product and I realised I could do something with it. Now, lead times for raw materials are long and there are not enough people to produce quality products – the workforce is limited. We also struggle with consistency. When wool does not come out white, or the desired white, we dye them darker colours and those that come out whiter we dye lighter colours. It takes about 1 hour to dye 10kgs of wool! We need training and support to purchase low-tech machinery to optimise the whole process.” In addition, he says, “We need assistance in securing the markets. We lose the market when we are unable to deliver.”
Beacon of Hope have dabbled in the production of fibres from water hyacinth, pineapple and banana with varying degrees of success. David remembers his grandmother using bark cloth to make baskets and laments that the skill  has now been lost.  He remains optimistic saying, “Fashion designers and international buyers are keen on handwoven textiles but people are appreciating new fibres.” He believes that this an area that can grow, but requires exposure and marketing. “Knowledge of these fibres needs to be out in the public.” .
The full report, funded by British Counsel Kenya will be available in July..