From trash to treasure: Turning plastic into handbags in Kenya

Stories | June 25, 2024

Carolyn is feeling blessed, hopeful, and confident now. However, life has not always been easy. She’s had a physical disability from a young age She was diagnosed with a physical disability when she was ten years old. Thankfully, she was able to receive her secondary school education at a special boarding school where she also managed to receive some physiotherapy and gradually became more mobile. Now 42, Carolyn is a widow with three children aged 19, 12 and 9. Since joining a women’s group, she has renewed aspirations for herself and her family.  

The group is a community-based organisation made up of women with disabilities and supported by one of CBMs’ projects in Kenya. With around 50 members, the group is leading the way for disability inclusion in their community, with country officials, organisations and institutions coming to them for advice. They also support members to have more confidence and live more comfortably through access to a saving and loan group, an opportunity Carolyn has jumped on.

Carolyn started a small business making handbags from recycling the plastic she found in rubbish on the streets. Seeing an opportunity to expand her business, she joined a Savings and Loan group supported by the CBM project and took out a loan at low interest. This loan not only allowed her to expand her bag business, but it also allowed her to add another item, hand soaps, which she makes from recycling bottles and filling with soap she makes from ingredients purchased at the local pharmacy.

Carolyn is fortunate that she has a tricycle that allows her to move around, sell her products at different markets and expand her network. Carolyn is not only generating an income, but she is also being a climate change champion by reducing the plastic litter that was previously going to block drains. Well, done Carolyn! 

CBM Australia acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Carolyn is helping clean up her community, turning trash into treasure, one handbag at a time.  

Some of the handbags Carolyn has created by recycling plastic found on the streets. 

Back to Stories

Your donation could save lives

Related Stories

Partnering with UNICEF to support disability inclusion

CBM Global’s Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) supports UNICEF Australia and Headquarters staff to embed...

Magic mulch: growing vegetables in Nepal

Nepal is highly vulnerable to climate change and is already experiencing changes in temperature and rainfall at a faster...

Empowering Women with Disabilities through Intersectional Advocacy

This piece was co-authored by Senior IAG Advisor with...