“Designing the Future, a Green and Inclusive Fashion Ecosystem” launches on 17 April 2024, at Don Bosco Training Institute in Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, 17 April 2024: Today, the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) together with the Embassy of Italy and the Nairobi Regional Office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), launched a new 3-year project funded by the Italian Government to foster sustainable fashion production and job creation in Kenya.

Opening address by Fr. Tharaniyil George, Superior, Salesians of Don Bosco East Africa

The event took place at the project’s main “incubation hub” at the Don Bosco Training Centre in Nairobi, in the presence of Hon. Susan Mang’eni, Principal Secretary State Department Medium and Small Enterprises; Her Excellency Mme. Mercy Wanjau, Secretary to the Cabinet; H.E. Roberto Natali Ambassador of Italy; Mr. Giovanni Grandi, Head of AICS Regional Office in Nairobi, Dr Stephen Jackson, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Kenya; Mr. Alex Musembi, Co-Founder of Africa Collect Textiles;  and, Ms. Lilian Kahiro, Director of Ushinde.

Hon. Susan Mang’eni, Principal Secretary State Department Medium and Small Enterprises; Her Excellency Mme. Mercy Wanjau, Secretary to the Cabinet; H.E. Roberto Natali Ambassador of Italy; Mr. Giovanni Grandi, Head of AICS Regional Office in Nairobi, Dr Stephen Jackson, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Kenya

The newly launched initiative leverages on the success of the EFI business model to empower self-help groups of artisans, micro-producers, and design entrepreneurs, with special attention to women and youth, through the promotion of circular design and production. 2,500 individuals from marginalized communities throughout the country are expected to benefit from this initiative through specialized training, improved working conditions and increased access to the market, with prominent international fashion firms.

H.E. the Ambassador of Italy underlined that this initiative marks another milestone in the renewed attention to the African continent and the friendly people of Kenya in the framework of the Mattei Plan for Africa.

Address by H.E. Mercy Wanjau, Secretary to the Cabinet of the Republic of Kenya

Giovanni Grandi, Head of AICS Nairobi, says « By empowering artisans, micro-producers, and entrepreneurs, our aim is to pave the way for inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Employment and business creation stand as cornerstones of the Italian Cooperation’s commitment in Kenya, and through this initiative we aim at harnessing the potential offered by the incredible entrepreneurial drive of the Kenya population and of its young population».

“Kenyan artisans are already world-class creatives; what they sometimes still lack is access to the markets and systems at the international level that will allow them to take their production to the next level. This ITC initiative will provide that, marrying local and international expertise for a win-win situation in the fast-moving world of global fashion,” Dr Stephen Jackson, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Kenya.

Visit of the Ethical Fashion Initiative premises and of the foundry let by Mr Simone Cipriani, Chief Technical Officer of EFI

Working with Kenyan MSME’s – especially those employing women and youth – and enabling them to improve their competitiveness in domestic, regional and global trade, is a cornerstone for our country’s economic growth, states H.E. Ms Susan Wang’eni, PS State Dept. MSMEs; adding “I am delighted the Ethical Fashion Initiative, which has a solid track record in supporting MSME’s from the fashion value chain, is launching this project in Kenya, creating new employment opportunities and shining a light on our homegrown creative and productive capacities.”

About the project

The project seeks to leverage EFI’s experience in managing fashion supply chains in Kenya to contribute to climate resilient growth and to a more inclusive society. The newly launched project will target 2,500 artisans, micro-producers and design entrepreneurs—primarily women and youth—from marginalized communities throughout the country. Project beneficiaries will receive a specialized curriculum of training and capacity building, increasing their ability to work directly with leading international fashion firms, thereby creating long-term, dignified employment in Kenya. The project also focuses on scaling up the environmental sustainability of the processes and practices used by Kenyan artisans, and which are increasingly demanded by global consumers. This will entail promoting circular design and production, use of renewable sources of energy, use of organic and/or recycled materials, and other processes that require carbon-insetting. The project will follow EFI’s “Due Diligence, Performance Monitoring and Corporate Sustainability Reporting framework,” which ensures socially responsible business conduct throughout its operations.

About Ethical Fashion Initiative

EFI is a flagship program of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. EFI creates and strengthens social enterprises in emerging economies, connecting discerning international brands in fashion, interiors, and the arts with talented local artists, designers, artisans, and micro-producers. Savvy investors, pro-poor champions and mindful consumers find value in a virtuous circle that creates not just premium products, but also stable, dignified work, and creative and resilient women, men, and communities.

About AICS

The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) is the Italian governmental Agency performing the technical and operational activities required to implement international cooperation initiatives. Its objectives are the eradication of poverty, the reduction of inequality, the promotion of human rights and human dignity – including gender equality – the support to conflict prevention and to peace processes. Its headquarters are based in Rome, with a support Office in Florence; it can count on a network of 18 field offices worldwide for assessing local needs, implementing development initiatives, monitoring results and building local partnerships

The Regional Office of AICS in Nairobi is responsible for Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.