I went to the launch event of andu amet, which was started by Ms. Hiroko Samejima, last night. She has had an extensive training and experience in design, marketing & branding. She went to Ethiopia as a member of the volunteer group organized by JICA, I believe) and realized that the sheep skin in Ethiopia is the BEST in the world, and yet it is exported as is, with Ethiopia not getting much of the value added.
She decided to design bags using sheep skin from Ethiopia and sell them in Japan. And yesterday was the significant day of the launch. (I trust she started making bags available for sale at facebook page, today.) Her vision is to design and produce bags which will bring smile and happiness to all those are involved in the process. And yesterday was the event to launch her business in Japan.
I happened to find out about the launch event through one of her supporters I met at the Global Agenda Seminar. As I am going to Ethiopia in a few weeks for the conference and I have never been there, I felt I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to get to meet with people and get to know something more about Ethiopia before I go. I did not even know where Ethiopia is and had to check the map. I was getting worried about the arrangement as I had so little knowledge.
So I went with rather selfish purpose. The event was fabulous. Hiroko san explained how she started getting involved, what she plans to do and her vision for Ethiopia and for Japan. I was VERY impressed with her courage to go and start the business in Ethiopia, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. The bags she designs are very nice and soft. They give you the warm feeling.
The event consisted of her story, video of operation in Ethiopia, display of her bags and music & dance from Ethiopia. It was followed by the talk by Hiroko san and Natsuko Shiraki of Hasuna (photo on the left of the two) who is an Ethical Jeweller. The whole event was full of inspiration, hope and warm feelings.
I was fortunate to meet with Yamamoto san who heads the Ethiopian Association of Japan who gave me a lot of advices regarding the trip to Ethiopia. I also met with quite a few people that I had met at GAS seminar and even the one that read my book!
I was inspired and encouraged by the high aspiration, great spirit, dedication and commitment of the young people who are doing great things for the world. I also learned the new concept of “Ethical fashion.” It was such a great evening.