Dara Lipton

Dara Lipton (Vital Voices- Kenyan Association of Women Business Owners - KAWBO): Before her fellowship, Dara served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan and Suriname. In Uzbekistan she worked at a community health clinic. In Suriname she worked with a women’s group. Dara then returned to Suriname to train Peace Corps Volunteers. At the time of her fellowship Dara was pursuing her MA in International Relations with a concentration in sustainable development in Africa at Yale University. After her fellowship, Dara wrote: "This fellowship has helped me to understand many of the academic and theoretical concepts that I learned in school in a more realistic and practical setting. This has given me increased confidence and a level of comfort in development discussions that I didn’t previously have."

Zohra: from local design to international department store

12 Jul

Zohra Baraka started Mohazo over 20 years ago and has successfully grown her company from a small-scale handicrafts distributor to an “African lifestyle brand” exporting to retailers in the United States, Japan, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom.  Her success exporting handmade baskets, soap stone sculptures and wooden masks to international retailers has demonstrated that an innovative perspective on African crafts combined with the benefits of an increasingly globalized economy can lead to lucrative partnerships.Zohra Baraka, Owner and Executive Director of Mohazo

Mohazo’s products first emerge as an idea from their full time designer in Nairobi, which is then communicated to suppliers employing female and male artisans in rural villages throughout Kenya.  The expertly produced wares are then packed onto containers and shipped around the world until finally they arrive on the display tables of a TJ Max in your average American suburban town.

This chain of production and distribution is a great source of pride for Zohra.  Mohazo has provided a market for many rural producers offering these craftspeople (mostly women) an opportunity to envision distribution beyond their villages and, according to Zohra, “realize their potential” for success.

It was in 1994 that Mohazo had its first big breakthrough when a Japanese company placed an order for 5000 hand-woven baskets—leading Zohra to start a woman’s cooperative and employ 250 women to fill the order.  Zohra continues to support this original group of women, and sends them orders as often as possible.  “In the long run my vision is to have at least 1000 women on board,” Zohra proclaims.  “I am a female chauvinist…I give the women priority (in regards to selecting suppliers and craftspeople) because I say, with us Africans, if a woman gets money, the whole family will eat.”

In regards to the future of Mohazo, Zohra feels that “the sky’s the limit.”  Undoubtedly she will continue to expand her market, diversify her products and employ more and more women.  “We want to be the best company selling handicrafts in this region…that is our vision.”


Posted By Dara Lipton

Posted Jul 12th, 2010


  • Annika

    July 13, 2010


    Incredible success story! I agree with you, Dara, I think that liaison is often a necessity when doing business. It allows craftspeople to focus on creating while businesswomen cover the rest. As long as Zohra is compensating them well as you say she is, then the more jobs the better!

  • iain

    July 16, 2010


    These products look wonderful. I’m sold! But question: are we forcing women down a cul-de-sac by encouraging them to produce handicrafts – given how tough the market is? Zohra shows how it can work, but presumably she’s the exception? Interested to know what all of the 5 Vital Voices partners and Fellows think of this…

  • يمكنك الآن التواصل مع افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة حتى تتمكن من التخلص من الحشرات الموجودة في منزلك بمهارة عالية

  • تواصل الآن مع شركة جلي رخام بمكة المتخصصة التي تقدمها شركة العنود حتى تتمكن من التخلص من البقع الموجودة في ارضيات منزلك

  • من شركه الاخلاص والامانه الى جمءيع علائنا نقدم لكم شركات الجلى بمكه الذى نقوم به باعداد جميع ما تحتاجه من جلى رخام بمكه
    الذى به جميع الامتيازات التى نوفرلها لكم اينما كنتم ولجميع عملائنا جميع التخفيضات باماكنياتهم الاتصال به
    وايضا من تنظيف رخام مكه الذى به جميه ما تحتاجه من سائل مميزه يقوم بتنظيف على الفور
    زوروا موقعنا الان : http://www.el3nod.com/1/company-tanks-isolation-cleaning-mecca

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