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The Story of Sisal Bags and Preserving African Tradition

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Empowering Women Artisans by Gitzell FairTrade

Sisal is a natural fiber extracted from the Agave sisalana plant, primarily grown in Kenya and other parts of East Africa. This hardy succulent thrives in arid and semi-arid areas, making it an important crop in Kenya for providing income to farmers and creating employment opportunities in rural areas. The sisal plant has been grown in Kenya for many years, and it has become an integral part of the Kenyan economy.

Sisal bags, known as Kiondo Kenya bags, are handwoven using traditional techniques and natural materials such as sisal and sheep wool. These bags have gained popularity worldwide due to their exquisite craftsmanship and cultural significance. The intricate weaving process is a skill that has been passed down through generations of Kenyan weavers, and each bag is a unique piece of art.

However, harvesting and finding sisal can be challenging due to the harsh growing conditions and intensive labor required. The sisal leaves must be carefully harvested and processed to extract the fibers, which are then sorted, cleaned, and spun into strong threads. The threads are then woven by hand into beautiful and durable bags, using techniques that have been perfected over generations.

Zellipah, the founder of Gitzell FairTrade, is a skilled artisan from Kenya who has dedicated her life to preserving the traditional craft of sisal bag weaving. She not only aims to preserve the craft but also to empower women in her community through fair trade practices. Through Gitzell FairTrade, Zellipah has created a platform for women weavers to showcase their craftsmanship and earn a fair wage for their work.


By purchasing a sisal bag from Gitzell FairTrade, you are not only supporting a small business but also preserving a unique African tradition and empowering women in Kenya. The hard work of Kenyan farmers and artisans, like Zellipah, has helped to keep this valuable natural material in use and to showcase its versatility and cultural significance to the world.

These handcrafted sisal bags are not only beautiful and functional but also carry a rich cultural significance. They come in various sizes and designs, making them versatile accessories for any occasion. Whether you need a stylish tote for a day at the beach or a chic clutch for a night out, there is a Kiondo Kenya bag that will suit your needs.

Some handmade items that can be made from sisal include:

  1. Bags: Sisal bags, also known as Kiondo Kenya bags, are one of the most popular items made from sisal. These bags are handwoven using traditional techniques and come in various sizes and designs.

  2. Rugs and mats: Sisal fibers can be woven into mats and rugs, which are durable and great for high-traffic areas.

  3. Baskets: Sisal can be woven into baskets, which can be used for storage, decoration, or even as planters.

  4. Wall hangings: Sisal fibers can be used to create beautiful wall hangings, which can be used to add texture and dimension to any room.

  5. Decorative items: Sisal can also be used to create decorative items such as coasters, placemats, and even Christmas ornaments.

You can purchase some of these stunning products directly from the Gitzell FairTrade website or through select retailers. By choosing to buy from Gitzell FairTrade, you are making a positive impact on the lives of the Kenyan women weavers and their families, while also promoting sustainable and ethical consumer practices.

To learn more about Gitzell FairTrade and their mission to promote sustainable, eco-friendly fashion while empowering women in Kenya, follow their Facebook page. Join the movement and make a difference in the lives of these talented artisans and their families.

See more of our handmade from Kenya


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