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More than 22 years ago, our founder walked Nairobi’s vibrant city markets and fell in love with East African crafts and the men and women who create them. Over the past two decades, our team has helped that love blossom into an extended family of creative artisans across Africa and appreciative individuals around the world.
Since our earliest days in Kenya, we have expanded our network to Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Uganda, South Sudan, Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. Each of Africa's 54 nations offers a unique array of beautiful crafting traditions, so we're always excited to begin working in a new country!
At Swahili, we believe that adaptation helps traditional African craft forms thrive. Artisans can earn a living from the comfort of home by doing creative work, so they have options beyond seeking work in cities. Through export, skills inherited through generations--sometimes with deep-rooted cultural significance--continue to bring meaning, stability and a sense of pride to entire communities.
Crafting handmade products provides a particularly vital employment option for rural African women. The backbone of the family, rural women cook, clean, garden, care for the extended family and often shoulder the burden of paying school fees. Creating products from home around daily responsibilities empowers rural women as earners, while working together on orders brings communities together and highlights the power of teamwork.
We feel that by following fair trade principles, we offer our partners across Africa the means to build stronger homes and communities by their own design. Because we handle the intricacies and complications of moving handmade products across oceans, artisans can focus on their creative work, buffered from challenging red tape and market fluctuations yet enriched by encouragement and design inspiration from their partners abroad.
As a company, we believe in designing collaboratively, building reliable partnerships and opening channels so talented artisans can sell their handmade creations beyond their local markets. While our business centers on selling products wholesale to stores around the world, here at swahilimodern.com we are free to support our fellow fair trade companies, offer limited production creations and showcase unique finds from our travels across Africa. Best of all, with every retail order we meet amazing individuals with an eye for quality and a heart for encouraging artisans across Africa.
On behalf of our partners across Africa and our Oregon-based staff, thank you for being a part of the Swahili family!