|[Back to Press]|
Swahili Imports, Inc.
Who is Swahili Imports?
Swahili Imports is a U.S. import and design company that promotes exchange between two networks.
Our African network includes individual artisans, export agents and micro-enterprises in the nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Sudan.
Our world distribution network includes thousands of retail stores, museums, educational institutions, catalog companies and individuals sourcing modern fairly traded African products at competitive price points. To view stores worldwide that sell Swahili Imports products, visit swahili-imports.com and click RETAIL LOCATOR.
Swahili Imports was founded in June 1995 in Eugene, Oregon, by Leslie Mittelberg.
Swahili Imports business offices and order fulfillment services are located in Eugene, Oregon.
Swahili Imports sells directly to Pacific Northwest shoppers through a Swahili retail store in the historic Fifth Street Public Market in Eugene, Oregon.
Swahili Imports wholesale catalog and ordering system are found at swahiliwholesale.com.
Swahili Imports retail selection is found at swahili-imports.com.
Swahili Imports' U.S. operations are carried out by thirteen full- and part-time employees.
Leslie Mittelberg Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Mary Spurgeon Wholesale Operations Manager
Darla Robbins Communications, Development and Public Relations
Jenna Howell Inventory and Artisan Relations Manager
Nichole Letherer Executive Account Manager and French Translation
Percy Appau Product Design, Sales
Danielle St. Hilaire, Retail Store Manager
Papa Awori, Calla Wilson Brick and Mortar Retail Sales
Scott Sturgis, Jesse Arispe, James and Allen Nabalindwa, Michael Kasahun Order Fulfillment
Swahili Imports is a privately held company. Revenue details are provided upon request.
Social and Environmental Responsibility
Swahili Imports believes in the potential for a sustainable network of trade between Africa and the United States. Since every transaction that occurs influences how African producers perceive American business, company operations center on responsible practices that promote growth and cultural affinity.
Swahili Imports is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, a group of like-minded companies and organizations that adhere to:
Swahili Imports also works in partnership with Shared Interest, a UK-based fair trade financial cooperative that advances funds directly to artisans based on submitted purchase orders from Swahili Imports. The partnership allows Swahili Imports to leverage high-volume orders in multiple nations and provides another level of fair trade accountability for company operations.
Swahili Imports orders provide many African artisans with a vital supplemental income. Even with a small staff, Swahili Imports maintains accountability with artisans by visiting groups in person at least once yearly. These important face-to-face sessions allow the company to:
Swahili Imports augments yearly visits in a variety of ways.
Swahili Imports works with producers across Africa who value their natural environment and employ sustainable methods of production.
Swahili Imports believes that hardworking African artisans, producers and export agents hold the key to their own personal success, and that the path to success requires a steady, committed pace. Swahili Imports extends each artisan's channel of trade from local markets to the global marketplace, all the while allowing artisans to work from the comfort of their own homes and communities. Secure in the knowledge that the fair payment they receive will not be reduced by traveling expenses, childcare costs and haggled prices, most artisans in the Swahili network promote their family's future by using earnings to pay educational expenses.
Swahili Imports recognizes the merit of charity and donates a portion of profits to three transformational non-profits working directly in Africa:
The Makindu Children's Program, established by Winnie Barron in Brownsville, Oregon, cares for over 400 orphans in Makindu, Kenya, through a highly effective community placement program. Older women with no other way to earn an income are paid to take orphans into their home, and the program augments that care with daily meals, showers, health care and school lessons. Through enthusiastic community involvement, the Makindu Children's Program has enhanced the lives of all area residents by providing a hopeful future for the community's marginalized children.
Caravan to Class is a non-profit organization founded in 2010 to rebuild a school in the village of Tedeini, outside of Timbuktu, Mali. Immediate success in Tedeini has allowed Caravan to class to expand its efforts to build a permanent and thriving educational infrastructure in all the villages surrounding Timbuktu, with outreach particularly focused on increasing literacy among the nomadic Tuareg.
Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife was established in 2002, when Director Gwen Meyer and her husband John Neumeister spent three weeks in Kenya. The organization grew out of a desire to help address the poverty and inequity they saw during that first visit. Since 2006, FKSW has worked in partnership with the Network for Eco-Farming in Africa (NECOFA), a local organization based in the town of Molo, Kenya. FKSW projects focused on education, specifically the construction of nursery schools, support for teacher salaries, school supplies, school lunch programs and scholarships for students to attend primary school.
During every online order, Swahili Imports customers are invited to choose which one of these non-profits should receive a $5 wholesale donation or a $1 retail donation. Since Swahili Imports initiated its benevolence partnership program in late 2006, over $10,000 have been directed to vital African non-profits.
Swahili Imports remains dedicated to the potential for even greater exchange between African artisans and American consumers. With so many talented artisans already earning income from Swahili Imports orders, the company faces the challenge to bring greater exposure to current artisans' work while further enriching the network with new faces and products.
Swahili Imports is dedicated to African artisans, as their skill, determination and sharing spirit form the backbone of the company's operations. Envisioning a day when the channel between Africa and America opens wide enough to bring greater prosperity to hard working African artisans and greater appreciation of African craftsmanship to all Americans, Swahili Imports continues scouring Africa from her back roads to her high rises, looking for more amazing handcrafted products.