The African Development Bank (AfDB) and its partners have launched a specialized training programme for entrepreneurs and startups in the textile, apparel and accessories (TA&A) sector in Africa.
The training is part of the AfDB’s Fashionomics Africa initiative aimed at increasing Africa’s participation in the global textile industry supply chain.
This initial phase targeted the Ethiopian Fashion Designers Association (FDA) as well as designers, fashion entrepreneurs and students attending the Hub of Africa 2017 event. Sixty-four out of the 95 participants were women.
Other sessions will also take place in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire.
“The Fashionomics masterclasses intend to give a better grasp of establishing and building a fashion brand (from idea to execution). From putting together a first production line as a one-person enterprise to building a team that shares a common brand philosophy,” said Emanuela Gregorio, Gender, Innovation and Creative Industries Economist at the AfDB.
Ethiopia has one of the most dynamic textile/fashion industries on the continent with tremendous potential for growth, creating more jobs, especially for women and youth.
As production costs rise in Asia, Africa offers the last frontier in the search for new apparel sourcing markets. With a strong apparel tradition, a large and entrepreneurial workforce, and the right incentives, Ethiopia is regarded as a compelling new sourcing destination for global brands. However, Ethiopia also has a deep well-spring of talent among fashion designers and small tailors, who can serve both the global, domestic, and regional markets.
“The underlying goal is to show that successful African apparel and accessories (TA&A) entrepreneurs can demonstrate that given the right investment and access to trainings and resources, they can compete on the regional and world stage,” said Basil Jones, Gender Programme and Policy Lead Coordinator at AfDB.
With an estimated annual $2.5 billion in apparel exports from Africa, the TA&A sector is an important driver of growth in African economies.
“As a trainer, I felt it was important to provide both early stage/ideation phase entrepreneurs and those that have ongoing businesses with insights, tools and inspiration. The peer-to-peer learning among participants and the combined knowledge in the room was the most promising outcome of the session,” said Marnix Van Holland – Programme Development Manager for Hivos international.
The Founder of Africa Mosaique, Anna Getaneh (an ex-supermodel and designer), described the Ethiopian training as interactive and impactful experience between established designers and industry professionals.
An Ethiopian fashion entrepreneur, Eleni Hailu, described the programme as an eye-opener.
According to the Founder of Hub of Africa, Mahlet Teklemariam: “It was so innovative and creative − very engaging and hands-on training. Everyone’s feedback to me was that they absolutely loved the masterclass. They wanted more. They didn’t want the session to end.”
Through Fashionomics Africa, the African Development Bank aims to support the growth of the African textile and fashion sectors through a focus on building the capacities of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the textile and clothing sector, especially for women and youth. It is aligned with the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities and the Jobs Strategy 2016-2025.