The drive for ethical fashion boosts employment, raises standards
European Union support translates into African production gains
Can fashion help change people’s lives? At the International Trade Centre (ITC), we think so. Since it was launched in 2009, the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) has provided opportunities for artisans across the developing world, including Ghana, Haiti and Kenya, connecting them to some of the world’s leading fashion houses.
Earlier this year the EFI teamed up with the European Commission to use fashion as way of creating jobs in Burkina Faso and Mali. The project, ‘Job Creation and Sustainable Development of Micro-Enterprises through the Management of Ethical Fashion, Lifestyle and Interior Design Supply chains in Burkina Faso and Mali’, is part of a wider international effort to create economic opportunities in developing countries and to address the root causes of migration from Africa to Europe and elsewhere.
Supported by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the four-year project aims to spur the creation of dignified jobs and support the sustainable development of micro-enterprises in the ethical fashion and design supply chains in the artisanal cotton and textile sectors in Burkina Faso and Mali. As the leading cotton-producing countries in Africa, Burkina Faso and Mali benefit from a strong textile tradition – a labour-intensive industry that carries strong potential for job creation.
In both countries the EFI is working to organize artisan workshops to produce handwoven textiles for the international fashion and interior market. Major improvements to production have already been implemented: the introduction of large looms to produce wide-width fabrics and the improvement of quality control procedures to ensure textiles reach the quality standards demanded by international buyers.