Going the extra mile: Q&A with Hisham El Gazzar

Posted by made 51 Admin on

With Father’s Day is right around the corner and we’re excited to have something special to offer those who are looking for a meaningful gift. Our ‘Celebrating Dad’ selection is the perfect place to find a feel-good present to show appreciation for fathers that are supporting their families, empowering their partners, and championing their children.

One such father is Hisham el Gazzar. Hisham is an entrepreneur who has built Yadawee, a Fair Trade business in Cairo, Egypt that specialises in handcrafted products. Yadawee is one of MADE51’s social enterprise partners, currently working with refugees from Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Hisham built Yadawee on foundations that are good for the people, and good for the planet. The company has an uncompromising commitment to ensuring dignified working conditions for their artisans, and offering stylish products to their customers that are made in a low-impact way from locally sourced materials. 

One of our favorite products in the ‘Celebrating Dad’ selection, matching cotton tea towels and an apron, are made of Egyptian cotton that is hand printed and sewn by refugee women in Cairo working at Yadawee.

We wanted to hear more from Hisham about the story behind the products, and what inspires him as a social entrepreneur, advocate for refugees, and father.

How did you get the inspiration to start working with refugee artisans?

I work as a business development consultant since 2007. I was coaching Egyptian artisans at that time. My work with refugees started in 2015, when UNHCR hired me as a consultant for their new livelihood project working with artisans, which was called “Nilfurat”.
This project opened for me the world of collaborating with refugees, understanding their pains and dreams. In 2017, when the project ended, I agreed to UNHCR’s request to include “Nilfurat” in my social enterprise “Yadawee” and from then onwards, I’ve become completely responsible for making sure that this project will remain sustainable.

What inspired you to create a product for fathers’ day?

Products that are made for this occasion are rare in the market. I asked our refugee artisans to produce aprons and tea towels for men especially since we have noticed that men are now more interested in cooking meals for their families.

Beautifully handcrafted towels and aprons from Yadawee are currently part of our “Gifts for Dad” selection...What do you think makes them a special gift? 

Cooking a meal for your family brings the whole family together and strengthens the bonds between all the members. They can share funny stories, their daily lives and dreams in the kitchen while preparing a meal. Providing a handmade apron and towel with a story to tell will add to these special moments.

How does being a father have an impact on you and your work?

As a father for two boys and a girl I feel all the pains and worries refugees are facing outside their countries. It is not easy to suddenly be forced to leave your home and everything you own and cherish. It is not easy to worry about the future of your children while you are continuously fighting to sustain a decent income. Thinking about these drives me to go the extra mile to try and help as much refugee artisans as I can. 

What do your children talk about the work you are doing with Yadawee?

My children appreciate the work I’m doing with Yadawee. They even come and help me in their free time.

What hope and dreams do you have for your children?

I hope my children will live in a peaceful world with no fear or worry for their lives. I wish that each one of them will find their own path in life and be a positive member of their community. 

What are some of the best moments you have had being a father?

Going on holidays with my children creates lots of nice memories. I try to take lots of photos to capture these moments because looking at these pictures years later makes me wonder how fast the time passed and my children grew.

What can be a message you want to send to fathers around the world, especially new fathers?

My advice to new fathers is to make sure to spend as much time with your children as possible. Do not allow your work to take you away from them. You will be surprised how quickly time flies and how suddenly they grow physically and mentally. 

How has working with refugee artisans affected your perspectives on fatherhood?

Working with refugee artisans made me understand that safety and wellbeing of your family comes second to none. 

What is the most rewarding part of this work for you?

The most rewarding part of this work is when I see gratitude in the eyes of our refugee artisans. I learned that sometimes saying “Thank You” with your eyes is more powerful than saying it with words.


Tea towels made from Egyptian cotton, hand printed and sewn by refugee artisans working at Yadawee in Cairo. 

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