The Common Good

Muya Ethiopia Handweavers

by Cathleen Falsani

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Muya Ethiopia was founded in 2005 by entrepreneurial fashion designer Sara Abera. Her objective is to introduce the rest of the world to the rich heritage of traditional Ethiopian weaving, while incorporating modern textiles and fashion tastes.

Sara Abera also wanted to bring together and retrain Ethiopian weavers and craftsmen, so they could work in improved conditions and eventually find higher-value markets for their handmade products. In fact, the word "Muya" means "talent" in Ge'ez, Ethiopia's ecclesiastical tongue which gave birth to Amharic Script.

Muya Ethiopia's socially-responsible business model has earned it the distinction of being the first Ethiopian company to obtain highly-coveted International Fair Trade Association membership.

Currently, the company operates from its compound at Sidist Kilo, employing well over 150 people, mostly weavers. A similar, larger site is now under construction, so that a further 600 weavers and potters can join the business over the next five years.

The audio you hear is one of the Muya workers, singing as she spun cotton into thread last month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.