Meet Yema Khalif and Hawi Awash the co-founders of Yema, they are partners in business as well as partners in life.
Yema grew up in the largest slum in Africa, the Kibera slums in Nairobi Kenya. His neighborhood didn’t have clean running water much less TV or internet. He grew up in a household of 8 and due to school costs, he had to drop out of high school several times to help support his family. Yema graduated from high school with top grades and through the Road to Freedom scholarship, was given the opportunity to come to the US to study at Dominican University of California. He made the most of that opportunity, making the Dean’s four years in a row. YEMA graduated valedictorian and had the honor to give his college’s graduation commencement speech. Dominican University of California recognized his ability and gave him a full ride scholarship to get his MBA, which he completed in 1 year.
Hawi is a native of Ethiopia and was a refugee in Kenya before moving to Minnesota at the age of 8. Giving back has been rooted in Hawi since she was a child. At the age of 11, Hawi started modeling and used the money she made to send money back to women in rural Ethiopia. This money helped empower these women to start small scale businesses. She was recognized by the state of Minnesota and received an award for her community service.
Yema and Hawi both know first hand the importance of giving back, which is why 20% of every Yema sale goes to directly to orphaned kids in Ethiopia and Kenya. Within the YEMA logo of a Giraffe is a heart, because the heart of a Giraffe looms large just like their own.