19300 69th Pl W Lynnwood WA 98036 info@salaamurbanvillage.org 206.841.1328

Nonprofit Africa Partnership Opportunities

An immigrant from Eritrea  turns ceramic artistry and knowledge of chemistry into a highly successful ceramic business.
An immigrant from Eritrea turns ceramic artistry and knowledge of chemistry into a highly successful ceramic business.

An immigrant from Eritrea turns ceramic artistry and knowledge of chemistry into a highly successful ceramic business. Salaam Urban Village Association (SUVA) will be highlighting the creative talent of Debessaie in the weeks ahead.

Debessaie’s business is one of the first business partnerships in the new initiative called RE-IMAGINE SUVA. While nonprofits serving the migrant and refugee communities in the U.S. are struggling to survive, Salaam Urban Village Association is poised to thrive under a new and innovative funding model.  This model is promoting nonprofit Africa partnership opportunities.

This new model envisions public-private partnerships with small business owners and companies with an economic investment in Africa. The nonprofit mission of Salaam Urban Village (SUVA) to support the migrant and refugee communities in the U.S. is served by these business partnerships as well.

Instead of just talking about the great creative talent in the refugee and migrant communities from Africa, SUVA is highlighting this talent and providing new markets and business opportunities for entrepreneurs from Africa. At the same time, the public is learning about Africa. We are breaking down stereotypes, strengthening communities and building connections.

We are convinced that this new partnership model offers the nonprofit world a new model for community engagement and sustainability. The approach is strengths-based rather than deficit-based. The roots of this model are in an Appreciative Inquiry process that SUVA led with the support of a grant from the Seattle Foundation.

At a large community gathering of individuals and families from Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and other African countries, we asked the question: “What are the unique gifts that the African refugee and migrant community bring to the City of Seattle?” Not surprisingly, asking that question led us down a journey that has opened the doorway for innovation and fresh creative thinking about our mission.

Creative partnerships, such as the one with Debessaie are only one of the unexpected and great outcomes of our reflection process. Follow our website to learn more about Debessaie’s company.   Our partnership with this ceramic company will unfold the beauty and the uniqueness of the African culture in the United States. You will see unique products that are not available elsewhere and are, in some cases, designed specifically for SUVA.

SUVA is becoming the Portal to Africa that we envisioned together.

We invite your participation. Do you have a business that serves Africans or grows out of the uniqueness of your African culture? We invite you to contact us and share your ideas. Let’s get to know each other and see how we might partner with each other.

Contact us through this website or send an e-mail to Amanuel Yohannes, the Executive Director of SUVA at amanuel@salaamurbanvillage.org.

The beautiful ornaments that Debessaie has developed have a surprise inside. We call it the message of hope within the ornament. Stay tuned to learn about the innovation and creativity that has driven his business and that is soon to be shared through SUVA.


Dr. Samuel Mahaffy serves as Senior Advisor to Salaam Urban Village Association. He is a consultant and facilitator who has assisted more than five hundred nonprofits and NGOs around the world, including many in Africa. His strength is developing creative partnerships, innovative funding paradigms and facilitating communities and organizations to RE-IMAGINE a desired future through an Appreciative Inquiry process. He may be contacted by e-mail at samuelmahaffy@gmail.com or visit his website at www.samuelmahaffy.com where he writes frequently on subjects relating especially to Africa and peacemaking.

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