The Ethical Fashion Initiative – a joint venture of the UN and WTO’s International Trade Centre, has selected three Kenyan designers to participate in the second Ethical Fashion Initiative Accelerator programme; Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa, SUAVE and HAMAJI.
The chosen designers all share a commitment to sustainability, using reclaimed and organic fabrics to create their collections, whilst noting their country and upbringing in Kenya as heavily inspiring their work.
The launch of the EFI Kenya Fashion Accelerator highlights the distinct design talent within Kenya and follows the organisation’s successful launch of their nationwide accelerator search in 2019. Selected designers benefit from mentoring and brand development from the EFI team and industry experts.
“I feel hugely honoured and extremely excited to be a part of the EFI accelerator programme, to have this opportunity to expand my knowledge and be mentored in the development of my brand in a sustainable approach with international and local expertise in Kenya” says selected brand HAMAJI.
Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa says of being selected to join the programme: “This is completely surreal! There have been times where it has felt completely overwhelming to have to learn to wear a thousand hats with limited guidance, and like an answer to a prayer often said, this comes as a strong statement of encouragement.”
Whilst Mohammed Awale of SUAVE says of their selection: “I’m really overjoyed to be selected for the EFI Kenya accelerator programme. Looking forward to learning from the vast EFI network.”
Simone Cipriani, Head and Founder of the Ethical Fashion Initiative at the UN’s International Trade Centre says: “The continued development of our designer accelerator programmes in Africa provide a new generation of African design talent the opportunity to engage with the international market. Through education and mentoring, we seek to equalise the playing field, giving exposure to the incredible talent that exists on the continent. Each region in Africa has its own unique creative voice. Being able to launch a programme dedicated to Kenya – the country where EFI began its journey and where it has some of the most beautiful collaborations – is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the creative visionaries that set this country apart.”
The EFI Accelerator programme focuses on the specific needs of African fashion brands, with a business development approach that prepares its beneficiaries to become investment ready. The accelerator targets existing fashion brands producing in Africa, who require additional support to accelerate their business in the global marketplace.
The programme will help the selected brands expand their supply chain and scale up their production, source new products and develop their production team. Brands will be assigned a production mentor, with whom one-to-one support meetings will take place. The accelerator will support the management and production of the key designs of the first collection, which will be manufactured through experienced companies selected within the EFI network.
Acceleration of the business process
The Accelerator will fast track emerging African designer labels, identifying and strategising areas for growth and funding towards developing a new product process or service. A diagnostic review of the business takes place every season in order to assess progress and tailor the programme to best suit and benefit the business. The programme will provide a set of one-on-one mentoring sessions and expert workshops.
Building brand value
The programme will help businesses understand investment, develop strategies for maximising brand equity, build a funding proposition and market themselves as an attractive investment proposition to angel investors or VC funds. The programme concludes with an opportunity to pitch to investors at a networking event. The programme includes workshops and 1-1 mentoring sessions delivered by industry experts.