Yema Khalif, a slum boy from Kibera slums (largest slum in Africa) in Kenya, met Hawi Awash, a refugee from Ethiopia while attending university in California. Now they are educating orphaned children through their fashion start up YEMA.

Yema Khalif

Yema Khalif, the co-founder of YEMA, grew up in Kibera slums (the largest slum in Africa) in Nairobi Kenya. He knows what it is like to live without clean running water, good schools and job opportunities, much less TV or online shopping. Born in a family of 8, his parents could barely afford school fees, so Yema had to drop out of high school on several occasions even though he was getting good grades. After struggling to graduate from high school, he was stuck in the slum with no money to go to college, no job and no opportunities to make something of himself.

Six years later, Yema 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 Yema was on the deans list for all four years of college and graduated a valedictorian. He gave the senior class commencement speech

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

He graduated as an outstanding student and Dominican University gave him a full ride scholarship to study his masters degree in business which he did in a year.

Knowing what a difference the scholarship made in his life, Yema vowed to give vulnerable African kids a chance at life, just like he was given. Yema created the apparel company YEMA, LLC in Tiburon California with a mission to support the education of orphaned and vulnerable kids in African slums. So far, he has taken 13 orphaned kids to school in Kibera slums in Kenya and Ethiopia.


Hawi Awash

Hawi Awash, the co-founder of YEMA, is a native of Ethiopia. She was a refugee in Kenya before she moved to Minnesota at the age of 8.

Hawi loves modeling and giving back. When she was 11 years old, she started modeling. And through that, she would send money every year to Ethiopian women in Rural Ethiopia to empower them in starting businesses.

Hawi holds a bachelor’s degree in Pre-med and Humanities with a minor in Public Health. She loves working with vulnerable communities because she was once a refugee and knows 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.


Marin County, California

Launching YEMA, LLC in 2016.


Chicago, Illinois

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


San Jose, California

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


Anaheim, California

Attending the fit expo event in Southern California.


Tiburon, California

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.


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