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About Swahili Modern

Swahili Modern is a fair trade company working directly with artisans in Africa to bring you handcrafted baskets, decor, & gifts since 1995. We are proud to be a member of the Fair Trade Federation.

Our warehouse and offices are located in Eugene, Oregon, about 2 hours south of Portland, with a team of about 20 employees. We work with a network of hundreds of artisan partners spanning 15 African nations: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Everything is imported to our Eugene warehouse, mostly by sea container, and from here our Oregon team fulfills your orders.

More than 20 years ago, our founder Leslie Mittelberg lived in Kenya. As she walked Nairobi’s vibrant city markets, she fell in love with East African crafts and developed lasting partnerships with the men and women who create them. Over the past two decades, these initial partnerships have grown into a network of talented artisans across Africa.

At Swahili Modern, we believe that it is an honor to bring artisans' handcrafted goods to the U.S. market. Our work would not be possible without the skill of artisans and their beautiful work, often rooted in traditional art forms that have been passed down through generations.

We develop long-term relationships with artisan groups, which creates a reliable source of income for artisans. In many cases, artisans are able to earn a living from home, so they have options aside from leaving home to find work in cities. Crafting handmade products provides a vital employment option for rural African women in particular. Creating products from home, working between their daily home responsibilities, empowers rural women as earners. 

We follow fair trade principles in our work, because we believe that fair, sustainable income creates the means for artisans to support themselves and their communities. We aim to be a reliable partner by placing consistent orders with our artisan network. This way, artisans can focus on their creative, income-producing work, removed from market fluctuations and long days selling their own goods at local markets. Many local markets have been impacted by Covid and the halt of tourism as well.

On behalf of our partners across Africa and our Oregon-based staff, thank you for your support of fair trade!


Please contact us with questions at

For wholesale inquiries, email us at

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