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Favorite Ethiopian Shops, Designers & Other Entrepreneurs

Updated 5.7.2014

While in the past I’ve been a bit negative about Ethiopia, today I wanted to highlight the amazing companies I’ve heard about and discovered in my first year here in Ethiopia. I’ve spoken a little about donations and giving out money, but I think a wonderful way to support Ethiopia and help get people out of poverty is to support the organizations that are working hard and providing jobs locally!

T&H Designs

Twin sisters Tigist and Hiamanot began T&H at age 17, they have built their small jewelry making business into a successful enterprise. They have a shop location near Sarbet, near the South African Embassy, and are at almost all of the craft bazaars around Addis Ababa on weekends, the NGO Bazaar is every last Saturday morning of the month and is a great place to check out! Recently highlighted on The New Africa, they will do commissioned pieces for extremely reasonable rates.

Chic Shega

This shop and owner/designer, Elsa, is my new favorite place in Addis! Elsa makes the most beautiful leather goods and textiles. Personally I’ve purchased a number of scarves and other textiles, as well as the beautiful leather bracelets she creates. I’ve also had my eye on this beautiful leather briefcase since I discovered her six months ago, which as a Peace Corps volunteer I can’t easily afford but am definitely saving up for! Her shop is behind Sishu in the Kera/Sarbet area and open M-F. However, soon she will begin selling selected items at Sishu on weekends.

Sishu

This restaurant has long been a favorite of Peace Corps volunteers in Addis, and when it closed down sometime before my group’s arrival was a very sad day. This past April it reopened behind the Worke’s Promise building between Kera/Sarbet and once again is one of the top places we love to go. My parents and I visited in it’s first week reopened and really loved it! I’ve been there probably ten times since as I can never get enough of their burgers, although now there is a vegetarian sandwich and a ham sandwich on the menu. Sishu closes around 6pm so go for lunch and is closed all day Monday. Rumor has it they are open later on weekends now…

Oasis Salon & Spa + Oh Canada Restaurant

You may be wondering why I’m putting a spa and a restaurant together… that’s because the two are housed in the same building and owned by sisters Mimy and Lily! The two grew up in Canada and the restaurant and spa definitely remind me of home! Although they are in an area not frequented by PCVs, I know many, many PCVs who head over to Oasis and Oh Canada, whether it be for a quick hair wash and style/full day of pampering or just to watch some hockey on the big screen. I recently spent an entire day here while new PCVs got pampered. Absolutely love and worth a bisit!

Sole Rebels

This store located in Adam’s Pavilion in Sarbet is the only WFTO Fair Trade shoe company on the planet. Nine years ago Bethlehem founded this small footwear shop and turned it into a multimillion dollar international business. You can read more on her and her company in this New York Times article from last October. Additionally, you can order your own pair of Sole Rebels from their website or on Amazon (and see their Facebook here). I have a pair of moccasins that I LOVE as well as a small clutch purse, and will hopefully be able to pick up another pair before I leave next year.

Abyssinia Vodka

Abyssinia Vodka is the first vodka to be produced in Ethiopia.  I only discovered them on Saturday, but you can follow them on Facebook for more updates as they grow. From what the people I met told me, a bottle costs a mere 500 birr (about $26 USD) and my own opinion is that it’s comparable to some of the better vodkas I’ve tasted. Keep an eye on this new distillery, I think they will do a lot in the future… plus the bottle looks awesome! If you are in Ethiopia and know someone who loves vodka, consider picking up a bottle of Abyssinia, the pioneer vodka of Ethiopia.

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