Your Quotecart is empty!
Community Times - Yadawee: reflecting Egyptian culture by hand
Written by Ola El Soueni
Yadawee, which literally means ‘handmade’, is an Egyptian company established in 2003 by Hisham El Gazzar and Tarek Sheta, with a mission to promote and export high quality Egyptian handicrafts. The two founding partners have amassed theoretical, as well as hands-on experience in entrepreneurial start-ups and management, quality systems and procedures, export management and developmental projects.
Yadawee’s vision is to become a brand name - ‘value added’ - export house of Egyptian handicrafts. To fulfill this vision, it is targeting a business model that would develop in-house designs that reflect Egyptian culture, finding and commissioning local artisans to produce those designs, and to internationally promote the products. The facilitation approach that Yadawee conceptualizes to be the most effective is holding quality assurance and styling workshops, in addition to hands-on skill training for the artisans.
CT interviewed Yadawee’s managing partners to give our readers more insight on the company.
Why the name Yadawee?
“The word Yadawee obviously reflects our work, since the company solely works with handmade products. At the same time, it is easily pronounced and this was important to us because we display our products in international markets.
The passion for Egyptian handicrafts is what brought us together. We wanted to be the first to start a fully integrated network aimed at exporting high quality Egyptian handicrafts. Our mission is to bring our customers closer to the heritage of an ancient culture that flourished by the Nile by exporting local products. Our mandate is to develop the skills of Egyptian artisans and raise their standards of living.
We conduct capacity building and training of artisans and workers, in which we raise awareness among those who reside in Upper Egypt. We evaluated more than 30 manufacturing sites in Sohag, Qena and Minya and an extensive training plan was conducted throughout the last two years covering issues such as quality management, pricing, export marketing, participation in trade fairs, client satisfaction, packing and packaging, time management and last but not least, product design.”
How do you market your products?
“We basically market our products over the Internet through Yadawee’s website, using clearly structured WebPages and a simplified inquiry process. Potential customers should be able to navigate the different product categories easily and face no problems in placing orders through Yadawee’s website. We primarily target distributers and agents, not individual shoppers, because we want our customers to resell the products in their respective countries for the prices they find suitable. We managed to open our showroom in Cairo, where an array of our products are being displayed.”
What are the kind of products that Yadawee sells?
“We currently supply bedcovers, scarves and tableclothes made of 100% Egyptian cotton from the village of Akhmeem in Sohag governorate. We also produce Kilim from Siwa Oasis; bags from Sinai; mouth-blown glass products from Greater Cairo; wood products from Hegaza area near Luxor; Alabaster products from Gorna, also near Luxor, and organic agro products from Siwa Oasis.”
How does Yadawee contribute to the development of the community?
“Yadawee believes in fair trade and its practices. Therefore, we practice directly with in-country communities and concerned local and international organizations to provide economic empowerment to artisans and craftsmen in remote areas and disadvantaged groups of the community. Yadawee supports gender equality in all steps of the supply chain, encouraging women to be a productive segment of the community and get the same payment as their male colleagues. We currently support St. Moritz Center in the Zabaleen area of Mokatam district. The center offers women job opportunities in production of bags and aprons. Yadawee is also actively engaged with St. Moritz project to develop new models and designs, coach the women in quality control measures, outsourcing cheaper and better material and finally market these products locally and internationally. Furthermore, Yadawee works with other women groups and associations in Upper Egypt and Sinai.”
What were the major obstacles that you faced?
“Actually there were many obstacles that we faced during the last six years. Mainly, it was the mentality of the simple Egyptian worker. You would be astonished how far these people are from understanding the mechanisms of international trade. It took us immense effort to streamline their minds as to how the export supply chain works, how stakeholders are involved and how to make the correct calculations of all cost factors involved till the product reaches the end consumer.”
“Another main problem was the quality control issue, and how to make our craftsmen consider a more global approach on durability, finishing and functionality of the product they want to sell. It goes without saying that we face a lot of problems related to the chronic problems of Egyptians to meet with delivery time frames. In addition to that, there are the challenges that any exporter has to live with, which are related to changes in consumer trends and the instability of markets like the current recession.”