Shanga was founded in 2007 when local resident, Saskia Rechsteiner, made a handful of fabric necklaces for a Christmas Fair in Arusha, Tanzania. Combining local fabric with some beads and her sons' marbles, she created a unique necklace that sold out within hours. The days after the fair were busy - orders for the necklaces came in from safari companies, gift shops and even people who wanted to export them to Japan and Australia.
Saskia saw an opportunity to generate extra income for a local deaf lady she knew and together they started producing the necklaces to sell from Saskia's backyard. Demand for the necklace grew and soon the first Shanga Workshop was established. The Shanga range of products was expanded, utilising recycled and sustainable materials where possible, and the project was opened for people to come and meet the inspiring staff and purchase products on site.
Over the years Shanga has grown to employ more than 60 people with a range of disabilities to make creative products including weaving, glass blowing, beading, paper making and metal work, using recycled materials wherever possible.
Shanga has welcomed many happy visitors and is an institution in Arusha. Some of our highlights are seeing Amal Clooney wearing our Amal necklace in the international news, and a visit from Bill Clinton and the Clinton foundation.
In 2017 Shanga was acquired by Elewana, our workshop and store are now located in the grounds of the beautiful Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge. Our staff are pleased to have such a beautiful and safe working space and have the ongoing support for our project and foundation through Elewana CSR program.
Did you know... 'Shanga' is the Swahili word for bead!
Throughout Shanga’s colourful journey, the heart of our message has remained the same - “Be kind and recycle”.
Of utmost importance to us is providing a safe, consistent and loving environment for Tanzanians with disabilities who have so often faced terrible hardship in their lives. At Shanga the focus is “ability over disability”. Of no lesser importance is making amazing products from discarded materials so that we can contribute positively to the sensitive Tanzanian environment while producing creative pieces that celebrate Tanzanian culture.
Meet Our People
Learn more about some of our inspiring staff members who make Shanga so special. Hover over the images to read each of their stories.