Sara Abera

Finalist 2007

Sara Abera

Muya Ethiopia
Collection of clothing and home decoration textile based on the use of traditional weaving techniques.

Fine garments and earthenware are part of the rich cultural heritage in Africa, but craftsmen are often underprivileged and exploited. Sara Abera's project for a handicraft production company aims to change that by supplying quality items to high-end markets in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

Born in Wollega, in south-western Ethiopia, Sara was schooled in Addis Ababa. She followed a fashion design course there before moving to Athens in 1985 to complete further fashion studies. On returning to Ethiopia, she was alarmed to see how undervalued traditional handicrafts, particularly woven goods, had become. This, in turn was leading to a depletion of Ethiopian craft skills, once passed on from one generation to the next.

"At the same time, I realized that there was a potential market for high quality woven products in richer countries," says Sara. It was at this time that she founded her first company, Sara Garment Designers and Manufacturers, a business that now counts Ethiopian Airlines among its customers, in addition to its international clients.