Meet the Makers - Sabahar
Sabahar was founded in 2004, by an ex-Oxfam employee, to celebrate Ethiopia’s rich weaving traditional through the creation of respectful and ethical work opportunities for marginalised people. Most workers have had a limited education with about half not completing primary school. Many of the workers have experienced great hardship living and working on the streets, doing temporary work as daily labourers on construction sites or working as house helps in unsafe situations.
Sabahar are now a recognised fair trade enterprise supporting 120 marginalised women and men to earn sustainable income, through the creation of eco-friendly fabrics entirely handmade from locally sourced fibres using environmentally friendly dyes. The gorgeous products include scarves and shawls, beach and hand towels, table linen, cushions, throws and bags.
One of the most effective ways Sabahar influences gender issues is by example, supporting capable women as role models. Sabahar has a management team of seven of whom four are women. The entire finance department is comprised of women. There are four Section Heads, two women and two men, and two Supervisors, one woman and one man. Departments staffed by women have a woman department supervisor. Respect for women and women’s empowerment is a key value of the company along with sustainability, innovation and caring for each other.
“When I started working at Sabahar I did not feel confident to ask questions. It was the first time I had ever worked in a formal company. By working at Sabahar I have my freedom. I know what is expected from me and I know what to expect from the company. I have really found myself here. I have learned what I can do, it gives me strength. I also now understand that if I learn more, I can go far.”