Hope, compassion, women empowerment, sustainability, are the basis on which Threads of Hope was founded: A social enterprise that is setting the grounds for a better future, by providing training and employing marginalised Egyptian women and refugees in beautiful embroidery crafts. Two partners, Margarita Andrade and Goya Gallagher founded Malaika linens based in Cairo, in 2004, a luxury linen company that has achieved significant success in raising the standard for linens production in Egypt and become an international success.  The two partners from Ecuador and settled in Egypt, decided to channel their love for design, embroidery, crochet, and hand-drawn thread to produce high quality and timeless pieces, unavailable in the market at that time.

While Malaika is a linens store and is located in a high end neighborhood in Cairo, Threads of Hope is a social enterprise designed to support underprivileged women in Egypt and refugees and provide them with a glimmer of hope during dark times.  Established in 2019, Threads of Hope provides embroidery and craft training programs for women to support them in pursuing self-employment opportunities and enrich their lives, but it offers so much more than that.

Threads of Hope works with women who have suffered tremendously and lived through the horrors of war. Woman who have lost everything; their families, their livelihood, the colors and smells of their countries, their identity, their food etc. Threads of Hope aspires to bring in the glimmer of hope in their days and lives that had disappeared with the tragedy of war, fear, displacement and uncertainty.

Margarita Andrade’s voice and emotion is palpable as she describes some of the hardships and stories of courage that the woman who have attended the program  It is clear that she is a woman on a mission: a mission to support women experiencing hardship.

Currently, Threads of Hope employs 15 staff members and trains 40 women every two months. The center produced up to 3000 items per month, items that range from notebooks, to pouches, bags, dresses table linens, utilizing different techniques and material to develop unique and memorable products. The initiative is housed in two beautifully decorated, bright and functional apartments located in the heart of downtown Cairo; a location chosen to ensure ease of access for the trainees. Ms. Andrade informed us of some of the challenges they had initially to gain trust of potential trainees. 

Due to the traumas that they had been through, it took time to gain trust, however with time this changed and slowly the numbers started to grow and currently the initiative attracts refugees from all countries and women from all ages, and situations in life. In this place they have let go of all their trauma, their different nationalities and backgrounds and remember only the moment, the joy of connecting, and have all bonded through the spirit that the partners of the Threads of Hope have instilled; those of love, support and trust.

As the organization expands so are the number of services to meet the needs of the trainees and to further empower their skills, their health, and emotional needs. The partners have created a day care center to allow for women to bring their children, as they conduct their training programs. The initiative also provides a meal to all the attendees and supports them in providing a small stipend for transportation. 

For the future, Ms. Andrande has many plans – she hopes to instill a nutrition program and to develop a cookbook that captures the talents, tastes and diverse dishes of the nationalities in the center, keeping in mind to include recipes utilizing local products and to identify places where these are of good quality and are at affordable prices. She hopes to draw the attention of the trainees to unhealthy habits such as fried food, excessive use of sugar and salt and the implications that these have on their health and their life.  She hopes to also expand the current programs, number of trainees as well adding singing dancing and instrumental lessons. In addition, currently a website is being developed to give bigger exposure for the products, open new markets and raise awareness and to promote the outstanding products.

We hope that this enterprise will expand and attract more and more trainees and become a hub for the production of sustainable, ethical and beautiful items for Egypt and the region.  In addition we hope that this model is replicated across the country and regionally, so that the thread of hope keeps connecting communities, aspirations and bringing a brighter future. In Ms. Andrade words “there are no lack of abilities, only a lack of opportunities” … Lets make sure that we keep expanding the opportunities and further supporting abilities to reach potential and to bringing in a more sustainable stronger and inclusive future for all.

For more information please see : @threadsofhopecairo

Each month we feature someone who is doing outstanding work to build a sustainable future in our region. Whether you are an entrepreneur creating new products or an activist promoting sustainability, or an individual who has gone through a life transforming journey, we will want to interview you, share your story more widely, with the hope of inspiring others. We will want to  make you one of our Yalla Stars. If you have any great suggestions for a Yalla Star let us know .

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