Trade Forum Features

Fashion out of poverty

17 February 2016
ITC News
ITC’s Ethical Fashion Initiative shows how public-private partnerships
can work by bringing local investors to gradually take over project.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) in December formalized the partial hand-over of its Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) hub in Nairobi to a group of private, local investors. As part of the transition, the social enterprise also changed its name from Ethical Fashion Africa Limited to Ethical Fashion Artisans (EFA) EPZ.

To mark the transfer, a ceremony was held at the eenterprise’s hub on the outskirts of Nairobi in the presence of ITC Executive Director Arancha González and EFA Managing Director Robin MacAndrew, as well as the Board of Directors of the new company and the Board of Amalgamated Chama Limited (ACL). 

Since its inception in 2009, ITC’s EFI project, which connects poor artisans in developing countries to designers at the top end of the global fashion market, envisioned that its Kenya-based operations would move from being donor-funded to full private ownership.

Investor group ACL was formed by a group of socially conscious and business-minded individuals seeking to invest in and support new Kenyan companies. Drawing its name from the Kiswahili word for a small investment group, ACL invests for social impact and the wider development of the African continent.

ITC has agreed to scale back from direct technical assistance and management of the company, but will remain closely involved to provide intensive capacity building for one year, provide access to its market network for four years, and assist with standards compliance.

Today, EFA operates out of the Athi River export-processing zone on the outskirts of Nairobi, where the photos of these pages are taken. In its first month at the new facility, the company successfully delivered orders to Vivienne Westwood. It is now producing for Stella McCartney, United Arrows (Japan), Karen Walker (New Zealand) and MIMCO, an Australian accessories brand.