Models showcasing Kenyan Fashion(image courtesy of https://zawadii.wordpress.com)

Models showcasing Kenyan Fashion(image courtesy of https://zawadii.wordpress.com)

The first Kenyan Fashion Stakeholders forum was held yesterday following a partnership between the Equity Foundation, and Hivos and the Association of Fashion Designers Kenya (AFAD). The forum was convened to explore ways of strengthening the Creative Economy, more specifically the Fashion Sector in Kenya  as well as to deliberate on what it will take for the Fashion sector to accelerate and scale up, both locally and internationally.

The stakeholders forum was held at the Equity Center in Nairobi and brought together all the key stakeholders from production, export, design, marketing and distribution in a half day event that was attended by the Equity Group CEO Dr. James Mwangi, the Hivos East African regional Director Mendi Njonjo,  AFAD chair person Sally Karago and Protus Onyango director of Arts from the Ministry of Sports, Arts & Culture among other invited representatives from the Textile Industry, Export Processing Zone (EPZ), designers, distributor stores and industry experts.

Dr. Julius Kip’ngetich the Equity Group COO opened the day’s session  by a posing a question that would form the basis for the day’s program

How can we trigger a process that revives the clothing and textile industry in Kenya? We are here today to begin to change the industry narrative, he added

 

His opening remarks opened the floor for the group’s CEO Dr. James Mwangi who reminded those in attendance that the Kenyan Textile Industry was once the leading vibrant industry. He attributed the decline of the textile industry to the entry of second hand clothes often referred to as ‘Mitumba’. Dr. Mwangi went further to link the growth of the mitumba trade to the country’s poor economic status where a majority of the population could not afford to buy new clothes.

In his closing remarks he emphasized on the need for Kenyans to take pride in themselves by buying Kenya products

“It is only after we start taking pride in ourselves that we start celebrating ourselves and buying made in Kenya products he challenged.

The Hivos East African Region Director Mendi Njonjo commended Equity Group for its support for the Fashion Industry through the Vijana na Equity initiative and confirmed the partnership between Hivos, Equity Foundation and AFAD in uplifting the Fashion industry as a potential sector to reduce poverty and create employment and that Hivos would work closely with all the stakeholders especially in areas of capacity building.

The forum’s discussion agenda focused on Policy & Academia, Production, Distribution, Finance and entrepreneurship with plenary sessions, panel  discussions and working groups. The discussion on a Kenyan National dress was raised by the Equity Group CEO as a challenge to the ministry of Sports, Arts & Culture in a bid to revive the interest among Kenyans on locally made textile. Despite Kenya being the biggest exporter of apparel from Africa within AGOA, Kenya does not feature as a textile player in the sector. This was revealed by Joseph Nyagari from African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation in his presentation that gave an overview of the industry. He also confirmed that Egypt despite not being part of AGOA is the biggest exporter of textile and apparel from Africa to the United States with a 44.5 percent share of the market.


He challenged all stakeholders to study how Mauritius have managed to penetrate the European markets by producing unique garments as well as Ghana who have a strong and vibrant textile sector.

As the forum came to a close, all stakeholders were in a unanimous agreement that  gap analysis, supply chain management, access to finance, customer experience are critical factors to thrive the fashion industry in Kenya.

The Equity Marketing Director closed the forum by reiterating the group’s commitment to provide funds to fashion designers and confirmed that the promised sh100M  was a start. She closed by adding that it was time to put all what had been discussed into action.

The discussion were shared on social media using the hashtag #FashionomicsKE making it a trending topic on Kenyan twitter.


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