Our Story

Seeing the success of how Scotland makes use of its stories, Kenyan/Scottish storyteller Mara Menzies felt that Kenya could gain hugely from its wealth of stories and considered a storytelling centre. While on the beach with her daughter Imani, attempting to build the biggest sandcastle in the world, she noticed that other children wanted to join in. Perhaps a centre was not enough! Perhaps an entire community was required and where better than her childhood home Mbegani. The community saw the potential and 'Mbegani Rising' was born.

Our Approach

‘Mbegani Rising’ is a unique community based organisation with a two pronged approach to the development of the Mbegani community in Kwale county, Kenya. The first prong and the heart of the project is the Kwale Community Business Incubator (KCBI), a centre that explores how the arts, culture, heritage and local narratives can develop alternative tourism initiatives that address the high levels of endemic inequality and poverty in the region. The KCBI will harness and develop existing skills and introduce new business ideas to selected trainees, nurturing leadership and business management skills as well as providing training opportunities for members of the community to find employment in local businesses and engage in a variety of life enhancing skills and training sessions through workshops, practical exercises and engaging with visiting workshop leaders.

But businesses need a market!

Fortunately, the village of Mbegani is ideally positioned in spectacular countryside, a 30 minute drive from the 5 star tourist resort of Diani Beach, regarded as one of the finest beaches in the world. This proximity allows for the development of the second prong of the project, the Kwale Sculpture Park and Heritage Trail (KSPHT), a world class arts trail that leads through Mbegani village where artworks of scale include sculptures, art installations and murals rooted in Kenyan legend, myth, histories and contemporary narratives. These artworks are positioned on lands belonging to the community, so while enjoying the beautiful countryside and artworks, visitors encounter the individuals who have been trained in the KCBI, and can engage in learning a new skill or purchase a handcrafted gift.

Meet the Team

Write something about the people who make your business go or your philosophy behind customer service.
Why? Because people want to know who they're doing business with. It's a human thing.

Mara Menzies

Storyteller and Chief Dreamer

Mara is a Kenyan/Scottish internationally touring storyteller, trainer and workshop leader with deep roots in the community. She is passionate about the power and value of story.

Mildred Mutua (left)

Volunteer Coordinator


Mildred Mutua is the womens representative in the community and a powerhouse who rules kindly but takes no nonsense.

Sitawa Namwalie

Sitawa is a poet and an artist at heart. She is also a consultant on gender equality and womens empowerment with the UN and she has been involved in establishing hugely successful community projects such as the Kipepeo Butterfly project on the North Coast of Kenya.

Want to get involved....

We need help in lots of different ways. If you are interested in fundraising for us, volunteering with us, advising us or getting involved in any other way, please do get in touch!