Our Story


Zuri Design was founded in 2003 by Helen Scanlan. Inspired by a number of volunteer trips to East Africa and a strong drive to alleviate poverty in some small way, Helen returned to the UK with a suitcase of soapstone and jewellery and a book full of contacts of the wonderful artisans and workshops she had met.  Zuri Design started trading on various market stalls across the UK.


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.


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 for 12 months, the producer groups developed their individual businesses by attending exhibitions as a group, securing export sales to other countries as a group, developing new product ranges by working on designs which shared each other’s groups skills and perfecting quality!


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 trading with Zuri Design. In 2013 The Zuri Foundation brought 10 young dancers from Mathare slum in Kenya to visit the UK, am amazing experience for all involved.  Visit The Zuri Foundation to read all about our charity and get involved!


12 years on, (and what a journey!) 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 and most importantly continued to trade with the majority of our original suppliers, growing their businesses and impact on their communities.


To wholesale 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.

Helen established Zuri Design as a fair trade business with the founding principle that the trade of beautiful hand made products has a positive and long term impact on the lives of Kenyan craftsmen and woman and their disadvantaged communities. Inspired by her studies and trips to Africa, Helen sought out grass root projects, which used their income from crafts, to better their communities. A number of the projects are slum based in and around Nairobi. Each trip to these workshops furthers our ambition to create as many jobs as possible through our orders. Working so close to people from slums in Kenya for over 10 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 wholesale 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.

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 BAFTS (British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers) member since 2006. Each year our trading practices are reviewed by BAFTS as well as our targets met and goals set.


Wholesale Registration