My names are Yema Khalif, I am a slum boy from Kibera slums (largest slum in Africa) in Kenya and I met my love and co-founder, Hawi Awash, a refugee from Ethiopia, while attending university in California. Now we are educating orphaned children through our fashion start up YEMA.

Yema Khalif

I grew up in Kibera slums (the largest slum in Africa) in Nairobi Kenya. My neighborhood didn’t have clean running water, good schools and job opportunities, much less TV or online shopping. I was born in a family of 8 and my parents could barely afford school fees, so I had to drop out of high school on several occasions even though I was getting good grades. After struggling to graduate from high school, I was stuck in the slum with no money to go to college, no job and no opportunities to make something of myself.

Six years later, I was given a chance to come to the US to study Communications and Media at Dominican University of California through Road to Freedom scholarships, an organization that empowers and educates children living in extreme poverty.

Click here to watch NBC Bay Area feature on Yema’s inspirational journey (Bay Area Actress Helps Boy From African Slum Find His Dream).

At Dominican University I was on the deans list for all four years of college and graduated a valedictorian. I also gave the senior class commencement speech :)

(Click here to watch Yema’s commencement speech).

I graduated as an outstanding student and Dominican University gave me a full ride scholarship to study my masters degree in business which I did in a year.

This scholarship made a huge difference in my life. That’s why I am committed to giving African kids, like me, a chance at life, just like I was given.


Hawi Awash

I am a co-founder at YEMA. I am a native of Ethiopia and was a refugee in Kenya before I moved to Minnesota at the age of 8.

I love fashion, modeling and giving back to my community. At the age of 11, I was recognized by the state of Minnesota for my community work and I received an award from Kevin Spacey. I started modeling at 11 and through modeling, I was able to raise money and then send the money raised to Ethiopian women in Rural Ethiopia in every year. This empowered these rural women in starting small scale businesses.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Pre-med and Humanities with a minor in Public Health because I am passionate about working with vulnerable communities. I was once a refugee and I know first hand what having nothing feels like”.

20% of everything you purchase on our website directly goes to orphaned kids in Ethiopia and Kibera slums in Kenya.

Click here to watch how we are changing lives

Follow our crazy journey as we build a brand that supports the future of African children.


Minneapolis, Minnesota 2019

Hawi’s home town! We celebrated Ethiopian New Year at the James Griffin stadium


Atlanta, Georgia 2019 ESFNA Event

We brought the heat to Atlanta and had so much fun at the ESFNA 2019 event. We met so many cool people and made plenty of friends as well.

Watch the video here


Tiburon, California 2018

Launching “Love Immigrants Perfectly” t-shirts.


Oakland, California

Our booth at the Ethiopia New Year celebration.


San Jose, California

Interacting with our supporters at the Ethiopia New Year event.


Anaheim, California

Attending the fit expo event in Southern California.


San Jose, California

Kali Muscle, Yema Khalif and Hawi Awash connecting at the fit expo event in San Jose California.


Chicago, Illinois

We drove 36 hours straight to go to Chicago fit expo event.


Marin County, California

Launching YEMA, LLC in 2016.


Shop at Yemacalif.com. Let’s change the narrative of orphaned kids in African slums together.