What gemstones are available? How do I buy them as a jeweler or as a jewelry customer?
Rubies, a colorful range of sapphires and garnets, citrines, amethysts, and green tourmalines are frequently mined in this region. The Umba Valley and Taita Taveta County (where Moyo miners are based) are famous for its bright, colorful, natural gemstones.
Do you sell "healing crystals" ? Yes, we can! Please note that our gems are perfectly sized for jewelry, which means that we do not see large specimen gems coming from the mines. Most gems of all qualities are typically less than 2 cm x 2 cm. If this fits your needs, please use the Contact Us form if you are interested in ordering.
Do you sell lower-value stones? Yes, yes yes! please use the Contact Us form if you are interested in ordering in bulk. We can maximize the incomes for the women miners by buying ALL their gems, whether for their gem quality stones for high-end or mid-tier jewelry.
Mining and miner-related
Are these responsibly sourced gemstones? How?
Yes! We believe this is the most responsible initiative of any gemstone supply chain effort to date, worldwide! How can we say this? For SO many reasons! Firstly, let's examine who participates and who benefits. These beautiful gems are mined by independent local women and men miners, not a large foreign company with tenuous connections to a community. (Larger scale gem mining companies don't really exist in this part of Tanzania anyways). Women miners spend their profits locally, in ways that they choose, and all community give-back priorities have been chosen by the women themselves. The women miners were co-designers of the Moyo Gems program itself, telling us how they wanted it to operate, how they wanted to be paid, and what they hoped to accomplish. Seeing your wishes come true? What is more empowering than that?
Secondly, let's examine how the miners benefit. There is NO program fee or participation fee for the miners to participate: it is completely free to them. To sign up, we arrange free worker safety training, free gemology training, and we help them secure the legal mining rights to where they are working (making them fully legal miners in the eyes of Tanzania). The miners report making 3-10 TIMES what they would normally expect for their gemstones. Of course, this makes our hearts full. The international nonprofit Pact checks for child labor and conflict issues (none found to date). Over time, the miners are working towards the "CRAFT" standard. See below for more info!
Why hasn't this been done before??!
Until recently, traceability in "ASM" produced gemstones was widely considered impossible (see below for an explainer on ASM). There were some limited examples with small, easily accessible groups, but nothing at scale. (If you know of an early example of more than one site that we're not aware of, we welcome it!). In order to claim 'responsible' anything, you need to FIRST establish traceability. Otherwise, how do you know? Pact has established traceability in ASM produced metals in other remote parts of Africa and applied its knowledge to gemstones, a woefully under-examined sector. It worked, and Moyo's traceability system is reinforced with blockchain. Bottom line: it's now proven that you can source gemstones from traceable sources and in remote contexts. How will the jewelry industry change and lean in to make sure all of its products are truly beautiful? Got questions? We're happy to answer them.
What is ASM?
Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) describes mining done by individuals or small-groups of people who use limited technology to mine the earth. It is not a small phenomena: approximately 90% of all mining labor in the world is done by ASM workers. It takes place in 80 countries worldwide, and all continents except for Antarctica. They produce up to 20% of all gold mined globally each year, 20% of all diamonds, and between 70-90% of colored gemstones (precious and semi-precious). While it can be unfairly maligned as 'dirty' and 'chaotic', ASM can be some of the hardest working people that you meet. When you meet the miners, one quickly changes any preconceptions. And an estimated 30% of ASM are women. Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Malawi, Madagascar, and Ghana have particularly high numbers of women miners.
Are there labor unions or trade associations involved in Moyo Gems?
Yes! All miners are members of the Tanzanian Women Miners Association (TAWOMA). This is a trade group founded, led, and comprised of women miners across Tanzania. With 3,000 members across Tanzania, it is a formidable group of passionate women who fight discrimination, advocate for better laws and services, and help us reach the most remote miners with the fewest resources. TAWOMA is a co-founder of Moyo Gems and a true program partner in every sense. They tell Pact and international trading partners about any new issues to be aware of, and inspire all of us to constantly improve.
In Kenya, our partner is the Association of Women in Extractive Industries in Kenya (AWEIK) and the County Government of Taita Taveta County in Kenya.
Why do women choose to mine? I've never heard of women miners!
An estimated 1/3 of all artisanal and small-scale miners worldwide are women, yet the world knows little about them. This is largely due to research bias. Fortunately this is changing. A growing amount of research is now revealing the dynamic stories of women in mining. In the Umba Valley, there are a mix of stories. Some miners noticed other women mining, so they decided to join the group. Others learned from their fathers. Others traded gemstones part time and then decided to get a claim and mine it. And others were once farmers, suffered the effects of climate change and unpredictable rains, and tried mining and liked it. Read some of their stories here.
What are the miners paid? What is a living wage in Tanzania?
About 1 million people work as artisanal and small-scale miners across all districts in Tanzania. Less than 9,000 people work at Tanzania's larger-scale mines (those mines mostly produce gold in Geita Region). About half of Tanzania's population (typically those who live in rural areas) lives on less than US$2 per day, and 90% live on less than US$6 per day. In this context, one might begin to understand why ASM is such a popular part time or sometimes full-time livelihood. It is common for women and men to combine side activities (to 'mix livelihoods') from their farms, local mines, and other income sources.
Moyo Gems miners are all pre-enrolled (following the rules, outlined below) and they can voluntarily sell into the Moyo Gems program or they can choose not to do so (the prices are so good that almost everyone sells as much as they can!). Because these are individuals or small groups, Moyo Gems miners are paid based on the gemstones that they sell. The type of gem (sapphire vs. a garnet), the color and clarity, all factor into the negotiated price. The miners negotiate with the assistance of an experienced broker (who they choose, and which are required by Tanzanian law), and all miners make 95% of the export price of their materials. The broker makes 5%. The miners report that Moyo Gems is paying them between 3-10 times what they would normally expect to make per stone if they were to sell it in the village or even a regional city. Plus the miners receive program benefits like free workshops in their village, savings groups, safety initiatives, and so on. So for the miners -- with whom Moyo was co-designed-- the program is a win-win-win.
Sources: International Peace Information Service/ Delve (2020)
Why aren’t miners paid salaries?
In Tanzania it is uncommon to have salaried positions with benefits, time off, family leave in any sector (outside of high-end office jobs in major cities), and these artisanal miners are self-employed with their own mining claims that they work themselves or have others work for them. They normally sell the gems they mine to local brokers who give them a small amount of money, then those brokers flip and sell those gems a number of times until export. Moyo Gems provides gemstone education so that the women know what they are finding, free occupational health and safety training, financial literacy training, and access to a market where they have the opportunity to sell their gems directly, netting about 95% of the export price instead of 10-30% that they would normally receive.
Do the miners know that you are using their photos?
Yes they do, and they love it. For any photo that we used, we have received the signed permission of that person to use their image. These consent forms explain the purpose of the photos, how they will be used, and the forms are provided in Kiswahili and English. For those miners who cannot read or write, our Tanzanian staff will read it to them in Kiswahili and then they will indicate their express consent via a thumb-print from an ink pad. We've shown the miners their images on Instagram and our website, and 100% of the feedback has been pride. If miners do not want their photos taken, they tell us, and we do not even attempt to take it without their clear consent. Respect is at the heart of our values.
Are their consequences for the women with this system?
We have spent alot of time on this issue. So far, women are thriving. This is because we have intentionally been as inclusive as possible. We felt it was important to NOT cut out the brokers out of Market Days because of unintended consequences for the women (an aside: The brokers have been delighted to work the Market Days because they make in a few days what would normally take them months). We have also allowed men to join the system under clear parameters. Because whole villages are benefiting, we have not seen retaliation.
Lastly, there are lots of trades happening in this region, mostly with the male miners. The women’s business is a very small part of the normal trades happening in this gem-rich area of Tanga. There has been plenty of gem business to fuel the normal (untraced) chain of gems. This just helps to 'even' the system for these normally-marginalized women miners.
Who is behind Moyo Gems?
Moyo was created by the international nonprofit organization Pact, international social businesses ANZA Gems and Nineteen48, traceability company Everledger, and in close partnership and collaboration with the Tanzanian Women Miners Association (TAWOMA) and the women miners of Tanzania's Umba Valley, who were directly involved in every part of the program's design. While men are now allowed to participate, women continue to comprise the majority of participating miners and serving them well remains our clear focus.
Are these Fairtrade stones?
No, these have not been certified by the Fairtrade Labelling Organization nor the World Fair Trade Organization (to our knowledge, a FLO or WFTO certified gemstone does not exist). However, we deliberately align with all 10 Principles of Fair Trade, such as providing opportunities for disadvantaged producers (remote, female artisanal gem miners), improving working conditions, capacity building, fair payment, gender equity, and more. We believe this is the closest effort to date to attain the spirit of the standard.
What is CRAFT? How does it relate to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance (OECD DDG)?
The Code of Risk-mitigation for ASM engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT) is a code of progressive compliance for ASM producers. It is also a tool for buyers to apply due diligence in the sector, with a focus on a continuous development and improvement. The current CRAFT Code (version 1.0) was released in July 2018. Moyo Gemstones is currently involved in developing and trialing CRAFT for Gemstones. CRAFT is an open-source code released under the Creative Commons and may be used by any stakeholder in the ASM supply chain, as well as by development organizations, among others.
CRAFT is closely aligned with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, and specifically modules (components) 3 and 4 are directly linked to the risks described the OECD DDG “Annex II.” All technical support will reinforce CRAFT standards and Tanzanian mining law. More information at www.craftmines.org
Moyo program related
What are the program rules?
The program was co-created directly with the women of the Tanzania Women Miners Association (TAWOMA) via participatory workshops in June 2018 and March 2019. The inaugural members agreed to attend occupational health and safety trainings, on environmental goals, and the specific rules.
To be a Moyo Gems miner, you must fulfill the following requirements:
Moyo Gems helps miners begin their formalization journey by facilitating written agreements where needed and liaising with local authorities.
I am a gemstone mining group outside of Tanzania and Kenya. How can I be a part of this?
Moyo was born in Tanzania but we have Pan-African dreams. We are currently expanding within Tanzania and Kenya. After that, we hope to expand to other locations where women miners are active. Please keep in touch with us on Instagram @MoyoGems or through the 'Contact Us' link.
What are the specific benefits for participating miners?
The Moyo miners each follow the five steps above in order to participate at Market Day. Miners receive free introductory gemology training, free health and safety training, and sell directly to the international market. Anecdotally, this is between 3-10 times what they would normally receive in a more rural location. Needless to say, the miners are usually very happy when they emerge from Market Days.
We do not buy all gems from all miners. Gemstones must be of top quality, and we educate the miners on why we buy certain gems and not others. This also aids in their ongoing education and negotiation skills. We are exploring ways to serve other types of jewelry and crystal markets so that we can buy all qualities of gems from these miners.
Moyo has brought positive attention to the area and renewed cache to Tanga Province. We have raised money for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a helmets, masks, eye protection, and boots for women miners specifically. During COVID19, because of our collaboration with local partners, we were able to respond immediately with foodstuffs and other supplies because of the social, information, and communications infrastructure of Moyo.
Are all the miners women?
The vast majority of miners are women, but not all. There are indeed some men who are participating. We leave membership decisions up to our partner, the Tanzania Women Miners Association (TAWOMA) and AWEIK. Some men in the region have been longtime members of TAWOMA or AWEIK, and we think that's terrific. Allowing men to participate also disincentivizes sabotage and promotes harmony. However, Moyo was designed around the needs of women and their needs remain our focus. Currently 60% of Moyo Gems miners are women and we intend to keep it this way. After all, this region's women miners were what inspired us.
Are local brokers allowed to participate? How does this work?
Yes, brokers are an essential part of our program! We have six local brokers who regularly participate. They were all nominated by their communities as trustworthy, and we require them to maintain legal brokers' licenses. They pre-sort gemstones by type and grade at 'Market Days' (where the miners sell the gems) and they assist the miners in negotiations in the sales room. Brokers make 5% of each sale, and 95% goes directly to the gem miner. Each miner chooses who s/he wants to work with on Market Day. We love how this has helped build teamwork between miners and brokers, and allows us to benefit from the brokers' gemstone expertise.
Supporting Moyo Gems
How can I help?
We love you too! Please visit our gemstone buying page to learn how to buy loose gems or to find the ethical designers and jewelers who work with Moyo Gems! To donate, please visit our donate page to learn how to support the communities and deepen our programs. The international nonprofit Pact is a US-based 501c3 nonprofit organization with registered offices in the US, UK, and around the world.
I'm obsessed with you! How do I learn more?
Here are some helpful links below!
Stories and images:
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