Meet Team Ethiopia, a fair trade cooperative of about 150 women living in the villages outside Addis Ababa. A talented group that we long wanted to work with, we first partnered with Team Ethiopia in 2015. Team Ethiopia provides refuge, health care and the chance at a new life to women who have survived war, domestic violence and societal oppression. We are blown away by Team Ethiopia’s ability to transform recycled bullet casings into beautiful and meaningful jewelry, and we are proud to share their story with you.
Gender-based violence is a significant issue in Ethiopia, and the cooperative behind Team Ethiopia was organized in response to such violence.
- Early marriage, rape and female genital mutilation effect the majority of women in Ethiopia, and these practices often result in fistula.
- Fistula is essentially a hole, causing women to leak urine and/or blood constantly. Because of this condition and the stench that accompanies it, women are pushed out of their community and assumed worthless.
- Many of these women escape to Entoto Mountain, a hill outside the capital where Team Ethiopia is located, to seek refuge.
- Now these women, along with many who are also experiencing HIV/AIDS, are creating a better life for themselves through the fair trade cooperative.
To learn more about the cultural context in Ethiopia, read our blog post here.
How We Support Team Ethiopia
We support Team Ethiopia by helping them employ more women, earn higher wages and reach new customers.
- We commit to long term, reliable trade agreements that allow cooperatives to hire more women and make proactive business decisions. Team Ethiopia can count on us to place continuous orders at consistent prices, and that trust results in more jobs and more job security for women.
- We work very closely with this group on design. The bullet casing beads are expensive to make because they are so time-consuming, and it is (of course!) important that we pay the artisans fairly. To keep prices low for our final customers, it's important to develop designs that take less time to produce, therefore keeping costs lower. The group can make more pieces this way, so they're happy, and so are we!
- We recognize the difference between living wage and minimum wage, and we pay our artisans more than 8x the minimum wage in Ethiopia. The minimum wage in Ethiopia is 14 birr per day ($0.60 USD/day). We pay artisans 15-25 birr per hour, resulting in 120-200 bir per day ($5.23-$8.71 USD/day). A huge difference!
Product Spotlight: Muna Earrings
These Muna Earrings - Gold are made of recycled bullet casings from the Ethiopian-Eritrean war. Women gather bullet casings left from war, melt them down, make the metal beads, and use those beads to create stunning jewelry pieces. These women, who have been told for much of their lives that they’re worthless beat the odds and create a dignified living. Because of the fair wage they’re paid for their work, they can prove that they have value to anyone who dares question it.
Product Care: This jewelry is made from recycled metals and some tarnish is natural. To clean, the artisan group recommends using lemon and a small brush (like a toothbrush), rinsing the jewelry completely, and then drying it with a towel and in the sun. It is not recommended that you wear this jewelry in the shower!