Basket Weaving 101

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA–After an incredibly uplifting morning observing a meeting of young African social entrepreneurs, I caught up with the Danish Minister for Development Ulla Tomaes who was touring a number of innovative economic development projects here. We stopped at Muya Ethiopia, a compound of four buildings that produces high-end crafts like pottery and decorative scarves.


Potters and weavers are drawn from lower castes here in Ethiopia. They barely get by, typically earning less than $6 dollars month. But Muya Ethiopia strives to be something different. For one, the products manufactured here are high quality and sold abroad. But more importantly, Muya Ethiopia takes care of its some 150 workers, paying them a decent wage, providing meals, and offering a clean, safe work environment that celebrates the culture of a socially marginalized caste. They even have a on-site volleyball court to encourage exercise during their mandatory one hour lunch break.

Muya Ethiopia does all this while turning a nice profit. They are operating at capacity and export their products all over the world. This is the epitome of doing good by doing well. Muya wants to expand, hire more craftsmen and women but needs the capital to do so. In today’s volatile market, investors could do much worse than putting their money behind projects like this.