Hivos East Africa and Equity Bank to empower women and the youth in the fashion industry
Hivos East Africa, Equity Bank Kenya, and the Association of Fashion Designers of Kenya (AFAD) have released the findings of a study that was commissioned by Hivos to analyze the impediments to sustainably integrate local fashion designers and small tailoring houses into the domestic retail platform, as well as the opportunities in regional and international markets.
The report titled; The Kenyan Textile and Fashion Industry: The role of fashion designers and small tailors in the fiber to fashion value chain, highlights the state of the fashion industry and tries to examine how Kenyan designers and manufacturers can attract and tap into the global apparel value chains.
Speaking during the launch, Equity Bank Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Dr. James Mwangi said that, “The findings that have been disseminated today have been as a result of collaborative effort between us and it marks a key milestone in an effort to make the creative space more lucrative. It provides us with insights to make progress as well as initiatives that aim to drive the interdependence in our local fashion designers whose desire to be self-reliant is unrivaled, this will eventually strengthen the creative economy.”
Equity Bank has also unveiled a credit product facility dubbed “Maridadi Business” which is a comprehensive financial solution including financial education designed to ease access to finance to all players in the creative economy. It targets everyone in the value chain and related industry a full end to end set of tools that will allow a maximization of opportunities. The credit facility is from Kshs. 5,000 up to Kshs. 100,000,000.
The proposition is designed to scale-up and strengthen the fashion industry by economically empowering all players through provision of affordable financial and non-financial services tailor made to suit their needs. “The bank is keen on bridging the gap that will connect these entrepreneurs and build structures that will enable them to compete favorably at a global level by nurturing business growth through financial/entrepreneurship training, working capital and exposure that will in return elevate the whole value chain in the ecosystem,” Dr. James Mwangi added.
According to Hivos East Africa ’s Regional Director, Mendi Njonjo, Kenya’s fashion industry remains largely untapped given its potential to create 300,000 jobs for women and youth in the country’s creative economy. ‘’Hivos sees the findings of this study, as an opportunity to ensure women and youth are part of this huge market. Besides employment and empowerment, the Textile and Cotton industry offers the possibility of renewable energy powered businesses and green jobs which is a big step towards sustainable development,’’ she said.
In conjunction with AFAD, the designers will be provided with networking program trainings and platforms to market their designs. The established fashion designers will be instrumental in nurturing the young talent on what is required to make it in the industry.
The report has recommendations on how to sustainably integrate local fashion designers into the clothing to fashion value chain in order for them to maximally benefit from the erst while industry that has all along been trying to find its place in the creative scene.
These findings come at a time when statistics indicate that Kenya’s local fashion design and apparel retail market is estimated at more than US$330m a year, according to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). Financial institutions have been cited as some of the key players that will unlock the full potential of the textile and clothing sector with regards to creating jobs, generating incomes, strengthening trade, accelerating technology adoption, attracting investment, and promoting local women and youth entrepreneurs.