Hand spinning and weaving are century-old skills in Ethiopia that once were, highly respected. However, because of the increased availability of large-scale manufactured textiles from within the country and abroad, this craft is slowly disappearing. Ethiopian artisans rarely work in the formal sector. Informal sector work does not guarantee decent salaries or consistent work. As a result, many artisans want to discontinue their craft for “higher status work”.
We at Sabahar believe the craftsmanship of hand spinning and weaving results in one of the finest textiles in the world. The beauty lies in the culture and creativity that is woven into each unique piece. We are, therefore, working to entice artisans back and preserve the rich textile tradition by introducing the beautiful Ethiopian workmanship to the global market.
We have a team of dedicated and skilled artisans, some of whom have worked for us since 2006. We employ 65 people at our workshop and engage another 120+ artisans who spin and weave in their own homes or in cooperatives around Addis Ababa and in southern Ethiopia. We also buy handspun cotton from women in local markets – women who often have no other source of reliable income.
The artisans are provided fair wages and sustainable employment. They attend trainings regularly, both to build their capacity in their respective areas of specialization but also to help them better manage their finances, their health and homes.