Manufacturing in Africa - Guest Post by Jacqueline Shaw
Production in Africa is an area close to my heart and something I aim to promote through Africa Fashion Guide. It is one of the reasons why I started this social enterprise - to help highlight what can be done in Africa and to be a platform to do this. Africa Fashion Guide aims to change the mindsets of the African textile industry globally. SOKO Kenya and Indego Africa are several like-minded organizations who I have aligned myself with. However, there are so many great projects that I could recommend, but for now, I'm highlighting the following 3 as exceptional workshops/manufacturing units in Africa!
3 Resources for Manufacturing in Africa
Global Mamas - http://www.globalmamas.org
Global Mamas, based in the historical town of Cape Coast in Ghana, is an American owned fairtrade NGO launched in 2003. Originating with just six producers, today the Global Mamas network is comprised of 627 women. Global Mamas transforms the lives of women in Africa by creating sustainable income opportunities which leads to financial independence through increasing wages and generating new jobs as a result of the production and export of fair trade products, including dresses, household soft goods and more. The women of Global Mamas, also known as 'Mamas', have an area where they also do batik prints for local and international clients. Above all, this shows the creation of access to global markets which also spreads the word about their work. UK based design companies Choolips and Julia Smith have worked with them in producing batik print designs for their collections.
Wildlife Works - http://www.wildlifeworks.com
Wildlife Works is an interesting initiative with 100% of its focus on environment preservation. Started in 1997, Wildlife Works' mission is to harness the power of the global consumer to create innovative and sustainable solutions for wildlife conservation.T his is the main area of their work in Kenya and since 2001 they have also built and operated their own impressive carbon neutral EcoFactory where they employ local women to cut and sew their own organic cotton fashion collection. Wildlife Works also works with SOKO Kenya to help with training programs in pattern cutting and tailoring skills. With a newly launched website, they are showing that conservation and environmental awareness does not have to be boring but can also be on trend and attractive too!
Mayamiko - http://www.mayamiko.org
Mayamiko and the Mayamiko Trust is an organisation based in Malawi. They produce accessories, clothing and homeware made in Malawi as part of their sustainable development programme along with other educational programmes for local community members too. They are also working with local government and partners on a Malawi Cotton Project which I personally find admirable. Recognising the importance of cotton to the country and the need for an increase in this area of trade, they are working to impact the sales of this commodity and to increase growth for local consumption too.
The importance of the above three co-ops is not only the impact to the environment that they may instigate but above all the impact to the local community too. Creating a sustainable business and charitable models for a significant length of time has proven to be an important part of the countries, towns and communities they are based in.
My Top 5 Ethical Fashion Websites
1) Ethical Fashion Forum - They are pioneers of the movement and an organisation I have not only worked with in various capacities but I respect for what they have done. They are great at bringing people together - designers, stakeholders, professionals, organisations in the textile industry all with the mindset to make fashion more sustainable.
2) Ecouterre - A fantastic site and resource for everything you need to know about ethical fashion. Ecouterre promotes from designers to textiles and more to give a full rounded view on this area of fashion.
3) Tree hugger - This site is not just for fashion, but it is an educational reseource which highlights areas of sustainabilty - from design, technology to business but written to enhance the readers knowledge and interest in this field.
4) Shirahime - Shirahime is winner of the Observer Ethical Award 2011, under the category of an 'ethical blog'. This site is written with a professional, and very knowledgable voice. The in-depth articles are written to critique so I always go away with an educated understanding of areas of ethical fashion in a fresh way.
5_ Ecotextiles - This is a magazine style site that gives full insight to the supply chain - in particular the textile area of ethical fashion. Although it is subscription only, it is worth following and subscribing to because they focus on the full supply chain, which is the story behind fashion that is not often looked upon enough. It is a great magazine and one that I highly recommend!
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR: Jacqueline Shaw is the Founder and Director of Africa Fashion Guide, an online site focused on promoting the African fashion and textile industry globally and creating links with African fashion businesses and the UK and EU fashion retail and consumer markets. Shaw is also a self-published author on African Fashion, with her debut book entitled "Fashion Africa".