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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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
Tiburon, California 2018
Launching “Love Immigrants Perfectly” t-shirts.
Our booth at the Ethiopia New Year celebration.
San Jose, California
Interacting with our supporters at the Ethiopia New Year event.
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.
We drove 36 hours straight to go to Chicago fit expo event.
Marin County, California
Launching YEMA, LLC in 2016.