Lila's Story

GELILA SHEWAYE, Founder

I've always loved fashion, but because of Ethiopia’s current economic state I found myself completing college and taking whatever job I could get. I knew that fashion would always just be a hobby, never a means of income.

I grew up near the Bole airport in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, I first heard about Korah (the trash dump community of Addis Ababa) after taking a job as a receptionist at an area guesthouse  Here,  I had the opportunity to see and be a part of different efforts to empower marginalized men and women.


I came to know a few of the women personally, when I visited Korah for the first time five years ago as a translator (guide) for a missionary group. It was on this trip that I visited the trash dump for the very first time and could not believe what I saw there.  The trash dump is very big and large, it’s been the city dump for decades. In the midst of the rubble and stench, I saw mothers, young boys, and kids collecting food to eat and stuff to sell.  My trash was their income.


In the middle of the need; I saw hope. Among the poverty and the trash are people with tremendous potential and ingenuity.  That was the first time I made a promise to myself to do something for these people as an Ethiopian and as a women.  I couldn’t change all lives, but I can change some.


I want to give them a voice, value and opportunity both locally and internationally. I believe creating job opportunities for these women can change their life and their family too.

I shared this dream with a woman and her family from California.  Soon, they began showing interest and provided the support to see the vision come true. She had the same vision as me, wanted to help people through fashion. This is when I first believed the fashion business I had dreamed about since childhood was going to come true, and not only come true, but bring opportunity to many people in need.


It's not a dream anymore.  It’s a reality. There is no question that the need in Ethiopia is huge, but in the middle of the need I see hope. Among the poverty and the trash are people with tremendous potential. Lila Products is a dream come true, not just for me but for countless people and children throughout Ethiopia. I thank God for letting me be a part of it.

My Vision for the future

As an Ethiopian women entrepreneur I want to make real impact for my country and my people. I want Lila Products to employ hundreds of marginalize men and women and give them skill, experience, voice and opportunity.  So they can support their self and their family by giving job opportunity