In light of London and Paris Fashion Weeks, Challenges have been celebrating the fashion enterprises we have supported across Sub-Saharan Africa and the innovation of our volunteers in this sector.
African fashion and textile businesses are important!
A history of imitation brands within the Sub-Saharan African fashion industry, particularly in Zambia, has resulted in a gap in the market for local fashion talent and designers. Across the Sub-Saharan region, international aid has created patterns of dependency, and the provision of clothes from international donations has stunted the development of locally manufactured goods.
Read Handouts not so handy? by Challenges Worldwide ICS volunteer Secret Adams
As part of plans to tackle the dependency cycle in Zambia, laws have been introduced to prevent the importation of textiles, encouraging instead the expansion of the local industry. As more young enterprises enter the African fashion industry and increase their outreach to a global audience, the added competition will drive new brands and local fashion talent. Dressmaking skills are in high demand and are an easy way of making a profit. Reaching into the global market could stop the pattern of imitation and boost the local economy.
At Challenges Worldwide, we recognise that sustainable economic growth needs to be achieved through the support of local products, and have been working with African fashion enterprises across Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda.
Read more about the role fashion businesses can play within International Development.
Atto Tetteh is a Ghana-based fashion company revolutionising the African menswear scene. The founder and Creative Director of the company, George Tetteh, aims to compete in the global menswear market with their high-quality clothing designs that have been inspired by local African culture.
Liberty Powers Footwear is a Ghanaian company, specialising in the production of hand-made leather shoes, and dedicated to increasing specialist skills for young people. Amos Osomi, the business owner of Liberty Powers, has created an apprenticeship scheme to train local youth in shoe production to increase their employment opportunities.
Kente Master is a fabric artisan company committed to promoting African culture, entrepreneurship, and economic self-empowerment. We do this by servicing and providing a unique inventory of premium Kente graduation stoles. With Kente Master, you’ll receive authenticity, customizability and choice that can’t be found anywhere else.
Buqisi-Ruux, meaning ‘Queen of the Village’, is a women’s footwear enterprise based in Kampala, Uganda. The company, founded and run by women, consider their African inspired shoe designs as “wearable art”, and aim to promote African culture and women’s empowerment through their work.
The Foundation for the Realization of Economic Empowerment (FREE) is an artisan business established to provide economic empowerment to women and to tackle gender inequality. The enterprise works with young women living in poverty, training them with artisan skills, such as copper jewellery production. Providing young women with a skill can help them gain the financial independence to better their own lives.
Read “I am a F.R.E.E Woman by Nifemi
ZUVAA – A U.S based digital marketplace for African inspired fashion.
The Zuvaa Marketplace is a premier online destination to find unique and one of kind African Inspired pieces. Zuvaa works directly with emerging designers around the world to bring you the best selection of high quality, one of kind African Inspired pieces the industry has to offer.
At Zuvaa, We’re Shining A Light On African Fashion. The Zuvaa Marketplace Is A Premier Online Destination To Find Unique And One Of Kind African Inspired Pieces. We Work Directly With Emerging Designers Around The World To Bring You The Best Selection Of High Quality, One Of Kind African Inspired Pieces The Industry Has To Offer.
Shine Bright Through African Fashion – https://zuvaa.com/
Fashion businesses set up by Challenges Worldwide Alumni
The KinzmenGh is a sunglasses business that has been created by one of our innovative return volunteers, Abel Ofoe-Osabutey. Driven to make a difference by his younger sister’s sight problems, Abel has built a Bamboo Eyewear Business to help prevent blindness. Abel’s experience with Challenges Worldwide connected him to those with relevant design expertise to support him in his entrepreneurial endeavours.
Return volunteer, Jack Fellows, has founded The Social Mercenary since finishing his Challenges Worldwide ICS placement in Ghana. Now working in Hong Kong, Jack’s platform provides entrepreneurs from the developing world the opportunity to market their products to a global audience.
In the long term, Jack hopes to invest in the businesses promoted through Social Mercenary to further their successes.
‘Challenges Worldwide give you a great deal of responsibility during your placement and so not only did I develop skills in market research, I also gained a great understanding of the operating procedures and the financial recording requirements that are vital to a business. Finally, and probably most importantly, the placement gave me confidence in my own ability’.
Read more and get involved by visiting thesocialmercenary.com
Following her Challenges Worldwide ICS placement in Zambia, Nifemi Oyebanji, has gone on to set up the Lagos Fashion Festival in Nigeria. Motivated by the vision to bring together young people and professionals within the fashion industry, Nifemi helps connect people from across the industry to showcase their work. Through workshops, talks and large scale fashion events, Nifemi is redefining a sense of pride in ‘Made in Nigeria’ apparel and encouraging young people to consider career routes into the sector. A percentage of ticket sales from Lagos Fashion Week also goes towards supporting mental health programmes in Nigeria.
‘I would say that 80% of my knowledge of business is from my placement and I am still using it all now.’
I started by purchasing 40 tote bags from eBay and then asked creative contacts for advice about producing images to print onto them. After seeking advice on ink printing and a talented friend kindly agreed to create some Ugandan animal illustrations, I purchased some carve rubber for handmade block prints and decided to use only the colours of the Ugandan flag – black, yellow and red – and letters from the word ‘Uganda’. With some help from YouTube and an evening with a couple of friends who helped me print in exchange for food and wine, I finished hand-printing the bags, each with a bespoke design. I documented my progress on a blog in the hope it would inspire more donations as people could see the research and work that went into each stage.
It was kind of spontaneous, I had a lot of colourful string at home that was just collecting dust so I figured I’d try and make something out of it. The inspiration came from seeing photographs of some bracelet ideas on Pinterest.
As you can see, Challenges work covers the entire spectrum of fashion and textiles. Our programme allows volunteers to utilise their creativity – whether that be through their fundraising before placement, their direct work to support African SME’s or during their work after placement. We are constantly inspired by the amazing work of the people and enterprise that we have had the pleasure of working with. We hope this blog has inspired you.
If you would like to get involved with Challenges work then visit our get involved page