With the Support and Partnership of the European Union


Supporting African Design Talent 

African fashion brands have an incredible creative capacity deriving from a rich and heterogeneous heritage expressed in its innovative imagery, rich textiles and skilled artisanal traditions.

But frequently they lack access to quality production, financial support and thus struggle to position themselves on the international market.

The EFI has been helping to bring African Fashion Design to the world stage since 2013. We have previously mentored a number of African fashion brands, and have brought designers to events such as Vogue Fashion Night Out, Pitti Uomo, and Altaroma.

EFI Designer Accelerator

The EFI Accelerator focuses on the specific needs of African fashion brands, who require additional support to accelerate their businesses in the global marketplace. The programme has a business development approach that prepares its beneficiaries to become investment-ready.

The EFI Designer Accelerator covers;

The Accelerator Judging Panel

Simone Cipriani

After gaining experience working internationally in the leather and footwear industry, Simone Cipriani relocated to Ethiopia with a UN agency to develop the local leather industry there.

The idea for the Ethical Fashion Initiative was born in Nairobi. Cipriani visited the Korogocho Slum, where he met the skilled artisans working there. He saw an opportunity; to connect artisans with the fashion industry for mutual benefit.  

Simone Cipriani began the project in 2009. He developed a cooperative of micro-producers in the Korogocho slum with the guidance of visionary Gino Filippini; a lay missionary in the slums who inspired Cipriani to create jobs to do good. 

Gradually, the project has expanded to Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, Haiti, Ethiopia, Nepal, Cambodia, and recently Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Cote d’Ivoire .

Today, through his work at the Ethical Fashion Initiative, Simone Cipriani has become a key spokesperson at the forefront of the growing global movement for ethical supply chains in the fashion industry.


Hirofumi Kurino

Hirofumi Kurino, widely known and respected global ambassador of Japanese fashion, has built up over 40 experience in the fashion industry. Born in New York and raised in Tokyo, where he graduated from Wako University in 1977, he began his career in Suzuya, a major Japanese retail group at the time. He then spent 11 years at Beams co ltd, gaining valuable experience across the company.

In 1989, Kurino co-founded United Arrows and became managing director. Today he is the senior advisor for creative direction at United Arrows, one of Japans leading retail groups. With a network of over 250 fashion boutiques across Japan, best known for its focus on quality, United Arrows is globally respected as one of the best specialty retail destinations on the planet.

Through his work at United Arrows, Kurino has introduced leading Japanese retail chains including Odette et Odile, Jewel Changes and Another Edition and in 2013 introduced a concession for American shoe brand Steven Alan. One of the first retailers to join the Ethical Fashion Initiative, Hirofumi gained international acclaim for displaying products made by the initiatives female artisans at 5th Tokyo international conference on African Development in 2013.

Kurino received an honorable fellowship from Royal College of Art(RCA) in London UK, and has been named both one of the most influential 500 persons in Fashion by BOF, and one of the most elegant 30 men by Vogue.com. Since 2014 he has been on the jury for the LVMH prize.

Dakore Egbuson-Akande

Dakore Egbuson-Akande is worth her weight in gold in the Nigerian and indeed African entertainment industry. Hailing from Bayelsa state though born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria, Dakore studied Mass Communications at the prestigious University of Lagos. Today she is an accomplished, well-loved and highly regarded Multiple Award-winning Film/Stage Actor, TV personality, Vocalist/Dancer and Humanitarian. 

Since her 1999 lead debut in Nollywood classic “Silent Tears”, “The Playboy”, “Emotional Crack” Dakore has starred in over 100 films. Her recent blockbuster hit movies are “Fifty” (Netflix) Spinoff “Fifty the series”(Ebonylife TV), “Isoken”(Amazon prime), and “New Money” (2018). She has just wrapped as Lead on Nigeria’s 1st legal drama series “Castle & Castle” and “Chief Daddy” (highest grossing movie of 2018 at the Nigerian box office). Her most recent films are “Coming from insanity” (2019) and “The SetUp” in cinemas August 9th 2019.

In her humanitarian work she was the 1st Nigerian actor to be named Ambassador of Amnesty International and Oxfam America in the campaign for the control of arms and ammunition. She is the current Ambassador for ActionAid Nigeria an international NGO with the aim of sensitizing Nigerians to align with the poor and disadvantaged in society. She has partnered with the UN in the campaign for girl-child education and violence against women, and last November Dakore partnered with the European Union (EU) along with fellow celebrities and influencers in the 16 days of activism against gender based violence.

Dakore strongly believes in the arts and media’s ability to provoke, inspire and be a vehicle for change in the world while being no less entertaining. She is a jury member for “Nollywood in Hollywood” which is a platform in conjunction with USC to bring carefully curated Nigerian content to a wider audience. The films are screened at the Egyptian Theatre and USC film school. She recently won the Best Actress in a leading role prize for her work in ISOKEN at the African Academy Movie Awards (AMAA)2018, and the Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA) 2018. In 2018 Dakore was recognized as one of the Most Influential people of African descent (MIPAD) recognized by the UN.

The Accelerator Management Team

This Accelerator is a programme of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, supported by the European Union. Its management will be harnessed by a dedicated and experienced team from the Ethical Fashion Initiative with extensive experience in working in Africa, fashion and business development.

Chloe Mukai

Senior Programme Manager of EFI

Operations, mentoring programme and partnerships

Susi Billingsley

Accelerator Designer Programme Advisor

Creative direction and project management 

Jennifer Faust

Fundraising Advisor

Fundraising and investment strategy