British Ambassador to Ethiopia Susanna Moorehead visited Arakele Design College on 15 March to see how one innovative British-Ethiopian partnership is helping create both stunning new fashion and new opportunities for underprivileged women and refugees in Ethiopia.
Arakele is the brainchild of Briton Arabella Stewart and Ethiopian Mikele Goitom. Since 2014 400 students have graduated from Arakele programmes, which range from short term courses to longer term diplomas. Students and workers come from a variety of backgrounds including women who have returned from domestic work in the Middle East, refugees from neighbouring countries and women rescued from abuse and living in safe havens.
This year Arakele is taking its social impact further by providing school uniforms produced by its students, supporting primary school children in need through feeding programs and donating pencil cases, made by a local group of deaf women.
To support this work, Ambassador Moorehead handed over funds raised during a High Fashion and High Tea and networking event at the British Ambassador’s residence last week to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event brought together stylish Ethiopian and British brands, including Zaaf, Sabahar and Pittards, alongside artists and fashion designers.
Handing over the funds, which will be used to enhance the college’s free scholarship programme in the fashion design sector, Ambassador Moorehead said:
Providing education & training for women and girls is one of the UK government’s priorities. It’s a great pleasure to be able to support this fantastic Ethio-British collaboration that is doing precisely that.
Arabela Stewart, co-founder and general manager of Arakele fashion design also said: “It was a really great honour and privilege to be contacted by the Ambassador and invited to participate in the High Fashion and High Tea event and we are excited about and look forward to further collaborations. We are thrilled and extremely thankful to be recipients of funds raised at the event. All donated funds for Arakele go into acquiring additional sewing machinery and our scholarship fund.
Arabella Stewart (from UK) and Mikele Goitom (Ethiopian) are Co General Managers of social enterprise Arakele Fashion Design College. To date around 400 students have graduated from Arakele since 2014.
The UK supports women and girls across its development assistance in Ethiopia, encouraging more girls to stay in schools for longer so that they can have more voice, choice and control.