About the Ethical Fashion Initiative

The Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the UN and WTO.

Its mission is to promote sustainable and inclusive development in emerging economies through increased trade and employment in the creative and cultural industries, fashion and textiles.

Since its founding in 2009, EFI has worked with countless designers, artisans and entrepreneurs, and with dozens of global brands and institutions in the fashion and other creative industries.

In recent years social and environmental sustainability has risen to the top of the agenda and EFI is a leading voice in promoting sustainability and good governance the fashion industry.

What we do

MIMCO Collection produced with Artisan Fashion


EFI manages a structured network of social enterprises coordinating the work of artisans from the global South to produce for luxury clients worldwide.

Partner social enterprises, Artisan Fashion (Kenya), CABES (Burkina Faso), IkatUz (Uzbekistan), Koyibaton (Mali) and  Ozara (Tajikistan) manage regional hubs to assist artisans and small producers with production, trade and logistics. With EFI support, they help build stronger communities and bring exquisite, handcrafted products to appreciative international markets.

Kenyan designer Katush at EFI production training, photographed by Louis Nderi


The Accelerator is one of EFI’s most successful recent ventures. The Accelerator team scours Africa and Asia for young, dynamic fashion and homeware brands with good commercial potential.

Local and international mentors work with designers and entrepreneurs to harness their creative and productive capacities and develop exciting new collections.

EFI then activates its commercial network to bring the products to the attention of global brands and markets.

Organic cotton farming in Burkina Faso, photographed by Anne Mimault

Social and environmental sustainability

Social sustainability has always been at the heart of EFI activities. International markets are Increasingly concerned with environmental sustainability, too.

In managing complex and impact-focused supply chains, EFI draws on its expertise to offer a sustainable path for the wider fashion industry. Its environmental, social and governance (ESG) due diligence framework is a tool to assess risk in supply chains and prevent, reduce, and mitigate it.

Developed in partnership with Camera della Moda, the tool has been shared with the European Commission in the light of the new EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Reporting.

Sustainable Development Goals

EFI helps create long-term, dignified jobs for women and men in disadvantaged communities in Africa and Central Asia, directly contributing to Sustainable Development Goals 1, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 13, and indirectly to SDG’s 16 and 17.

Brands and institutional partners

Our industry partners

EFI has an established network of global fashion and homeware brands, major distributors and key industry players.


EU INTPA, the European Commission directorate responsible for formulating the EU’s international development policy, has been EFI’s main donor partner in recent years.

EFI and DG INTPA share key goals: to reduce poverty, ensure sustainable development, and promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law across the world.

They also share an enduring commitment to private sector-led development that makes a positive difference to the lives of people everywhere. EFI is proud to partner with the EU and other donors that share the same aims and drive to achieve them.

Simone Cipriani at the Artisan Fashion production hub in Nairobi, photographed by Louis Nderi

Simone Cipriani

Simone Cipriani is the founder and manager of EFI, chairperson of the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, and a leading voice in the growing global movement for ethical supply chains. 

Aiming to transform fashion into an engine for poverty reduction and women’s empowerment, Simone and EFI work with social enterprises to create wealth and dignified jobs across the world, connecting them with discerning lifestyle brands and measuring the human impact of each order.

EFI continues to innovate, most recently promoting emerging African designers and driving forward the debate about the role of fashion in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.