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. 

Further Information

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.



Arakele Vocational Training Center is a social enterprise Ethiopian business that provides hands on training in sewing, fashion and pattern design in small class sizes. Arakele offers discounted tuition plus scholarships for those women who are unable to afford the tuition. Seven-month flexible classes are currently on offer (in Amharic) mornings, afternoons and evenings. Classes include Sewing, Fashion Design, Draping, Modification, Layout, Figure

Drawing, Sketching and Machine Use. The students learn how to accurately use a tape measure on the body first and to then hand sew garments before they learn how to use and operate an industrial sewing machine. They also learn how to create patterns on tracing paper from concept to design. Qualified Ethiopian teachers provide the tuition in sewing and sketching.

In November 2014, Arakele was delighted to celebrate its first graduation with a colourful and stylish Fashion Show displaying the students’ versatile talent and creativity in their final projects, which were modeled by professional models at Capital Hotel; they generously provided space and will again sponsor our 2015 graduation gala event.

The students graduated with a recognized Short Term Addis Ababa City Administration Technical and Vocational Education and Training certificate. Arakele has also been commended by the Addis Ababa City TVET Agency as a “model school” offering a good location, peaceful compound, excellent materials, good teachers and student satisfaction. Because of this the center has been selected as a COC Center (Occupational Competency and Assessment Certification Center). We are currently preparing for our 2015 graduation with many more graduates.

Currently Arakele scholarship students are primarily teenage girls who have failed 10th or 12th grades; Arakele provides these girls with vocational skills training leading to a marketable skill which can help them earn an income whether part time or full time according to their needs.

There is a documented need for more skilled women to enter the labor force here especially within the expanding Ethiopian textile industry to meet the growing demand in this blossoming sector. “Made in Ethiopia” is receiving global attention with the export of clothing and independent Ethiopian designers are also receiving accolades for their fusion fashion – combining the culture of Ethiopia with contemporary fashion designs; Ethiopian fashion is becoming trend setting.

The goal is for Arakele graduates to receive training that can lead directly to sustainable employment. Often Arakele is able to connect students with potential employers.

If you would like to learn more about Arakele courses, register for a class or sponsor a student or even employ a graduate, we would love to hear from you! Please contact Arakele or visit the school located off Togo Street below the British Embassy.