Ethical Fashion Initiative can work with over 7,000 artisans who have the skills the fashion world desires. We succeed where others struggle thanks to logistics designed to work in challenging environments.
What that means: we are an incubator for the creation of micro-enterprises, making it possible for marginalized people to connect with the fashion world. Regular training keeps skills up-to-date. Considerable effort is invested in product development as well as business and technical support.
We work with our fashion partners to develop products that are feasible, using the skills and materials available locally. Our business and production hubs in Nairobi, Accra and Port-au-Prince process orders, guaranteeing they will be delivered at high quality and on time, while complex organization ensures workflow to those in urban slums and disadvantaged rural areas right off the grid.
Artisans are organized into working communities, some numbering as few as 10 people, others well over a hundred. While we favour community work, we make sure the most isolated and vulnerable, such as young single mothers, can work safely and earn an income while prioritizing childcare. While we do not discriminate against men, 90% of the Ethical Fashion Initiative team are women.
Those who work with us continue to face the complex challenges of poverty; whether they are single mothers, widowed, coping with illness or have escaped civil conflict. The majority of those we work with in East Africa - where Ethical Fashion Initiative began and has the greatest numbers of people in employment - live in slums. Through regular income, they can improve their living conditions. By taking work to rural areas, we play a key role in stemming human migration to slums, enabling rural people to continue their way of life.
We connect the poorest of the poor to the markets of the world via fashion. This goes beyond earning an income. A community shares vital information; on everything from financial management to sexual health. We facilitate a process of formal tax registration for community groups. In turn, this leads to recognition of the identity of individuals whose births were never registered. Formal registration of existence is vital to female empowerment.
I come from the Maasai land where they don't care about the identity card. They're not interested in it. When I came here, it was very difficult for me. You cannot do anything without an ID, you cannot be employed, you cannot enter the bank, you cannot save. Now, because of this work, I have it. It took three months and my 38 years.
— Alice Maitai, beading supervisor, Gilgil, Rift Valley
We bridge the work of development and the fashion system. Our fashion partners can be confident everything is fair. That our designer partners make a profit through working with us is essential to Ethical Fashion Initiative's longevity.
Ethical Fashion Initiative is a highly organized fashion production facility where departments are spread over a vast geographical area crossing national boundaries.
Ethical Fashion Initiative succeeds because: