Our Story


Zuri Design works directly with small producer groups and workshops in Kenya and Uganda.  Zuri Design was founded in 2003 by Helen Scanlan. After working in Kenya and Uganda as a volunteer over a number of years,  Helen seen the opportunity to alleviate poverty through the trade of handmade gifts and jewellery.  Zuri Design started trading on various market stalls across the UK in 2003.   Our business and our suppliers businesses in East Africa grew alongside one another, with Zuri Design offering support to develop their workshops and increase their incomes.


Zuri Design established as a wholesaler, attending various trade shows, building up it’s customer base and increasing orders placed in Kenya and Uganda. Through our increased trading Zuri Design financed the start up Xcel Workshop in Kibera slum, employing and training former street boys in making beautiful cow bone jewellery. This workshop is now self sustainable and ran by one of the original members who we trained, Ishmael.


The Zuri Network was set up in Nairobi, encouraging all Zuri suppliers to engage, trade and work together to form a successful group of producers. Assisted by Kathleen Scanlan in Kenya for 12 months, the producer groups developed their individual businesses by working as a collective group. They attended exhibitions, secured export sales to other countries, developed new product ranges by sharing each other’s groups skills and materials. Quality and consistency of product standard was a key focus in 2007.


The Zuri Foundation, a UK based charity, was established enabling founder Helen and Kathleen Scanlan to further assist the disadvantaged communities they had got to know so well. In 2013 The Zuri Foundation brought 10 young dancers from Mathare slum in Kenya to visit the UK.  This was an amazing experience for all involved.  Please visit The Zuri Foundation to read all about our charity and get involved!


17 years on,  Zuri Design orders have created work for more than 200 men and woman in Kenya and Uganda, worked with over 10 workshops, financed the start-up and development of a bead making workshop in Kibera Slum, donated to our suppliers workshops and community projects, assisted in securing overseas buyers for our suppliers.  Most importantly we have continued to trade with the majority of our original suppliers, growing their businesses and impact on their communities. Working so close to people from slums in Kenya for over 15 years, means we have witnessed first-hand the hardship of living in poverty. We know that our orders change lives and that with the support of our customers many more people can work their way out of the cycle of poverty. Please order our unique products and help us bring change directly.


To bring to the UK market beautiful, fairly traded gifts and products from Kenya and Uganda, the trade of which improves the lives of craftsmen and woman and their disadvantaged communities in East Africa.

Please visit our Producers page to see exactly where we have come from with each group.

The Fairtrade Foundation

Zuri Design adheres to the principles of Fair Trade as set out by The Fairtrade Foundation, Traidcraft and Oxfam, www.fairtrade.org.uk


Zuri Design is a proud member of BAFTS (British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers) since 2006. Each year our trading practices are reviewed by BAFTS as well as our targets met and goals set. www.bafts.org.uk


Wholesale Registration