About Team Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, Fair Anita partners with two different fair trade women's cooperatives. The first, a group of about 150 women, we first partnered with in 2015. This cooperative provides refuge, health care and the chance at a new life to women who have survived war, domestic violence and societal oppression due to their HIV/AIDS status.
Gender-based violence is a significant issue in Ethiopia (as it is in every country around the world), and the cooperative behind Team Ethiopia was organized in response to such violence.
- Early marriage, bad pregnancies, 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.
- Because of fistula and/or their HIV/AIDS status, many of these women escape to Entoto Mountain, a hill outside the capital where Team Ethiopia is located, to seek refuge. It is believed that the waters flowing from Entoto Mountain will heal them, so the women bathe in the waters and live, homeless, on the mountainside, praying to be healed.
- Our artisan partners in Ethiopia recruit women living on Entoto Mountain, providing real relief to their conditions, including necessary medications. They receive skills training, and as a part of the cooperative, they receive 3x the minimum wage (more than many government officials), health insurance, and participate in peer support groups. They are now able to purchase homes, which means they don't have to rely on renting from landlords, many of which are known to kick residents out of their home if the HIV/AIDS status is discovered.
- These are STRONG women fighting back against the stigma of HIV/AIDS, and they're making real change in their communities! They're actively changing the trajectories of their lives by investing in their health, ensuring their children have education and a safe place to live, and helping to disband the stereotypes that have been placed upon them.
The second cooperative in Ethiopia, equally as amazing, partners with 35 women on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Formerly prostituted, these women now make more money creating fair trade jewelry than they did on the streets, so they're able to escape their former situations. They start with a year-long rehabilitation program, paid for by the profits the artisan cooperative makes through sales of jewelry. The women receive stipends for housing, food, and education through the rehab program, and they spend the last 6 months of the year in skills training, where they get to pick between about 6 trades, one being jewelry-making. It is here that they perfect their craft, and then afterwards, they start working with the other women in the cooperative to make jewelry for Fair Anita! These artisans have the biggest hearts and brightest spirits -- every day in the workshop is spent laughing, supporting one another, and taking a ritual well-deserved break to perform a coffee ceremony. This cooperative also provides childcare for the women, as well as educational support for the women and their children.
Our Ethiopian partners specialize in working with recycled bullet casings left over from the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea over a decade ago. These bullets have been stockpiled and crafted into beads you can see in our bracelets and necklaces from Ethiopia. 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.
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: Color Block Artillery Earrings
These Color Block Artillery Earrings 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!