At the upcoming Kenya Mining Forum, Ms Atieno is a featured panellist during the Women in Mining Breakfast.

“What makes Kenya’s gemstones unique is the story behind the gems, the tenacity and resilience of the miners – both men and women.”

1)    Can we start with some background on and history of Porini Gems – what markets are you focusing on?
Porini Gems came into play in the gem mining scene in 2012. It took us a while to find our ground and establish ourselves as a limited company. Information and market penetration was extremely difficult, more so locally than abroad where markets are much more open. Our main focus has been on the Western markets, mostly North America, Europe, Middle East and a bit of Asia.

 

2)    What is unique about Kenyan gems?
What makes Kenyas gemstones unique is the story behind the gems, the tenacity and resilience of the miners-both men and women. Their passion for the stones and their never ending relentlessness to bring them from the earth and so generously share them with the rest of the world.

3)    What do you see as the main challenges in the industry?
Lack of proper infrastructure for mining of gems and the lagging behind on technology and advancement in gemmology is a major challenge that is setting the industry far back from its counterparts in the rest of the world.

4)    What role can/should the government play in the sector in your view?
The government can streamline and implement policies favourable to the sector-encourage fair trade and help offer attractive investment opportunities.

5)    What is the state of the beneficiation or value-addition sector in the gemstone industry in Kenya? How important is the growth of this sector in your view?
Value addition is still largely lacking in the gem sector. The high cost of value addition and time involved is a deterrent and hence the easy route of raw export. Value addition would be of great socio-economic impact that would offer a much needed boost to the economy.

6)    You are part of a panel discussion at the Women in Mining Breakfast at Kenya Mining Forum – What will be your main message?
My message would be to highly encourage people already involved in the sector and the ones that want to join to whole heartedly invest in the industry,  so as to tap into the huge potential that the industry has to offer.

7)    What is your experience as a woman in this industry?
It has been an extremely eye opening experience, working side by side with men in the industry has been very inspiring as they have been very supportive and willing to share their expertise and experience.

8)    What are you most looking forward to at the event?
I look forward to networking and meeting new people, learning new things, sharing my expertise and experiences and, if anything, making new and lasting industry friends.

9)    Anything you would like to add?
We are slowly but surely making our way towards the right direction and Africa will soon be the go to place for luxury and glamour in the gem industry.