Listen to our founder tell our story:
Providing Employment for Refugee and Malawian Artisans since 2010.
At Kibébé we design and handcraft baby products, accessories and décor to provide employment for artisans who live in and around Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi. We use African Print textiles which we buy at the local market, and a variety of repurposed materials: from plastic packaging, to unwanted jeans, to cardboard. Besides directly providing jobs, we donate a portion of our profits to There is Hope - our sister charity, which offers opportunities for education and vocational training to the same community we serve.
Kibébé has been growing steadily from very humble beginnings in 2010. At the time, Innocent and Florisa Magambi had pioneered There is Hope and were working with the refugee community of which Innocent had been part all his life. When their first child was born, a girl called Mwiza, their lives were forever changed: Mwiza had a rare brain malformation and needed several surgeries. Mwiza's life was short and challenging, but also impactful. She inspired Florisa to engage refugee tailors in the creation of handmade toys for babies of all abilities to enjoy. Over time, we began making other products: bags, home décor, and natural soaps. Because of Mwiza, we always ensure that artisans with a disability, or who care for disabled family members, can find work on our team.
Kibébé was legally registered as a social enterprise in Malawi in 2017; to bring our wonderful products to a broader international community, we established Kibébé International as a 501c(3) non-profit organization in the US in 2019.
Many people contribute to the success of Kibébé: our local staff based in Malawi, our team of artisans based in Dzaleka refugee camp, our international volunteers and our amazing customers, who love Kibébé just as much as we do!
Working almost exclusively with African Print textile, Kibébé sources fabric from Lilongwe’s bustling open air fabric market where we support around 30 female sellers. Here we take great care in selecting patterns and colors that will make our products just right.
The design process, meanwhile, is ongoing and often stems from conversations - with friends, customers, and on social media, about what products they would love to see available in Malawi. The best ideas, however, come during sleepless nights, and are then brought to our production room in the form of a rough sketch or picture, ready to be discussed and developed by our artisans. It can be a time consuming journey in which the technical knowledge of the team can be tested and challenges - such as the availability of haberdashery and sewing hardware in Malawi - have to be circumnavigated. Only when a prototype looks right, and has been tried and tested, is a small batch put into production.
All the production takes place at our workshop, located just outside Dzaleka refugee camp. Our artisans work five days a week, receiving ongoing training and sharing a nutritious lunch and plenty of jokes each day. The sense of purpose and belonging is just as important as the earnings, while refugees and local people work side by side, thriving together and healing from past wounds.
Kibébé's online shop is based in Michigan, bringing lovingly handmade products filled with stories directly to your doorstep.