The approximately 1,200 people that live on this island are mostly from the Wavumba sub-group of the Swahili community. Among them are a group of nearly four dozen women that form Wasini Women Group.
This group was born in 1978 to empower women and eradicate poverty. The 15 founding members were determined to slay the giant of poverty through their unity.
They started off by building a small retail kiosk where they sold eggs, milk, firewood, khangas (traditional cotton wrappers) and reed mats. This mix of perishable and non-perishable foodstuff was a testament to their early ingenuity.
In those formative years of Wasini Women Group, every member used to contribute 50 cents every Friday. They opened a bank account into which they accumulated their profits to a staggering figure of Ksh 25,000.
In 1996, this pioneering women group initiated an environmental project that has since become one of their defining projects. They started a beautification and cleanliness activities for the mangrove trees and corals that were next to their village. It was in this corals that they later constructed their much acclaimed board walk.
The Board Walk offers a serene walk within the serenity of a coral and mangrove garden. Initially, tourists used to feast on this coral garden for free. But once the board walk was fully in place, thanks to the efforts of the women group, tourists paid a minimal amount that went back into maintaining the coral garden and contributing to the welfare of the local community.
Before donor funding started trickling in, Wasini Women Group was partially supported from local benefactors especially Mzee Masoud Abdallah, the late founder and owner of Wasini Mpunguti Lodge. In this regard, the women group was fully locally owned and led.
With the tourism revenue and donor funding, the group eventually started an educational sponsorship programme young girls in Wasini. Early marriages were pushing many girls away from school hence this focus on them. Some early partners at this time include the Kenya Wildlife Service which runs Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park and Reserve only five kilometres away from Wasini Island.
Between 2000 and 2006, Wasini Women Group got further sponsorship from USA and the European Union. These funds enabled them to extend the board walk from 300 to 700 meters. They were also able to build an office and a boutique that further set them along the path of development.
Wasini Women Group is still going strong nearly forty years after it started. Its current Chairperson is Bi Asha.