African designers have been promoted by events such as Johannesburg Fashion Week © PA Images
African designers have been promoted by events such as Johannesburg Fashion Week © PA Images

'Empower textiles SMEs to generate African jobs'

13 July 2017

SMEs in the textiles sector should be empowered to generate jobs for Africans, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said.

Textiles is the second largest sector on the continent with the potential to create millions of jobs, said the AfDB.

The AfDB made the call at a Small Business Indaba in Gauteng, South Africa.

“Textiles and clothing is the second largest sector in the developing world after agriculture. This sector is dominated by SMEs and holds the potential to create jobs for millions of women and youth across Africa,” said Emanuela Gregorio, gender specialist at AfDB.

“The foundation of any long-lasting venture in Africa depends on the continuous empowerment of regional SMEs and young entrepreneurs. Governments, the private sector and international investors must consider Africa’s young people and SMEs central to the stability of their economies.”

The textiles and clothing industry is labour intensive and can offer employment to transform the lives of many women and youths across Africa.

The AfDB has developed a flagship initiative named Fashionomics to enable African women and youth operating in the textiles, apparel and accessories sector to grow their businesses and to increase Africa’s participation in the global textiles industry supply chain.

The AfDB said SMEs have the potential to fuel growth and spur job creation in Africa and currently account for around 80% of the region’s employment.

While Africa only accounts for a small portion of the $1.5tn global fashion industry, sub-Saharan Africa’s apparel and footwear market was valued at $31bn by Euromonitor in 2016.

Events like Fashion Week Nigeria and Africa Fashion Week have been promoting African designers, while high profile European retailers are increasingly looking to East African countries such as Ethiopia for garment manufacturing, according to a survey of chief procurement officers in 2015 by McKinsey.

That study found 13% of respondents named Ethiopia as one of the top three sourcing destinations over the next five years.

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