Malagasy apparel takes a stand for environment

28 June 2023
ITC News

For Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day 2023, we celebrate small entrepreneurs from all over the world. Small businesses account for 90% of the world's businesses, 60 to 70% of employment, and 50% of the global economy. They contribute to local and national economies and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. For MSME Day, we have interviewed Chabina Meraly, founder of LOI Confection, a Malagasy women's clothing brand.

Tell us about your company.

I'm Chabina Meraly, entrepreneur and founder of LOI Confection. LOI was founded in 1995 under the name of apparel de l'Océan Indien. Until 2009, we specialized in the manufacture of apparel for major French and European clients.

At the end of the 2000s, the economic context led us to switch to the manufacture of "warp and weft" fabrics for the children's and women's clothing market. These fabrics are woven into an armure, a series of interwoven yarns that create a decorative pattern.

Between 2010 and today, LOI Confection has strengthened its know-how in this market and developed numerous complementary facilities, both in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – with a wastewater treatment unit, solar panels, a social and medical center, a lactarium – and on an industrial level – with the integration of new verticals, screen printing, machine embroidery, washing and dyeing units.

Today, LOI is an ecosystem of over 800 people committed to the continuity and development of this project.

What are your challenges?

There are many challenges. As a manufacturer, we have to continuously improve our production facilities to remain competitive in the face of international competition.

As far as the Madagascar/Indian Ocean zone is concerned, the major challenge is to find new international customers. Given the relatively modest size of the Malagasy textile industry, it is sometimes difficult to commit the financial resources needed to attract new customers.

What are your needs?

Our main needs are fourfold: recruiting new talent, ensuring better in-house training, finding new long-term business partners, and reinforcing our continuous improvement approach.

What is your greatest achievement?     

We're proud of our CSR commitment, particularly in terms of the environment. We are setting up a solar power supply that will soon cover 45% of our needs. In terms of reducing water consumption, we recover rainwater and use a mixed system of drilling and public supply.

In addition, we have implemented a strict waste management policy, with sorting areas located in each section, and specific disposal according to the type of waste.

Through our partnerships with associations, we are also keen to contribute to the professional reintegration of destitute women by supporting training workshops in the sewing trades.

We have benefited from CSR training thanks to the support of UKTP (The United Kingdom Trade Partnerships Programme).

What is your message to other entrepreneurs?

Standing your ground pays off in the long run!