RefuShe now offers a Shibori Collection online. When UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie visited the organization on World Refugee Day, she praised the women artisans for “bringing forward their own designs and culture.”

Through our Market-Based Skills Training Services, Bhavana saw the shibori Japanese textile method reimagined by artisans from a diversity of East African states. Dating back to the 8th century, Shibori uses dyes with stitching, clamping and binding to produce beautiful patterns, each one unique.

For this initiative, Bhavana worked with the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub to increase supply of locally dyed Shibori fabric for high fashion, branded apparel and accessories destined for local and export markets.

We worked with women from a range of fashion and décor enterprises, with the majority of participants coming from RefuShe. This inspiring Kenyan organization is one-of-a-kind, holistically empowering young female refugees with tools to build independent futures including through an artisan collective.

Using a Train the Trainer model to increase impact, the course covered multiple pattern techniques, product development skills, and marketing and pricing.  We emphasized hands-on learning, from use of natural dyes to how to properly stitch silk for the delicate Ori Nui style. Participants applied their new skills to create a variety of products, including scarves, shawls, wall hangings, bags, pillow covers, and apparel.


RefuShe reported higher productivity and product diversity following the training, with customers placing advance orders after seeing sample Shibori products. Participants expanded their technical and business skills, and opened a new avenue for home based income-generation. They were equipped with the skills and materials needed to train colleagues in their respective organizations. Just as important, the Refushe team noted a shift in the workshop dynamics—the women artisans demonstrated a boost in confidence and motivation, with women testing and practicing the technique daily.   

Related Links

See the artisans and our Shibori Master Trainer in action through Refushe’s Shibori Collection Video:

Harper’s Bazaar captured Angelina Jolie’s visit to Refushe’s fashion show.

 For this initiative Bhavana World Project partnered with Development Alternatives Inc