Creativity, Design and Investment Opportunities Attract Textile and Apparel Industry to Origin Africa 2012 – Ethiopia

Origin Africa is a market awareness campaign led by USAID COMPETE in partnership with producers, designers, small businesses, exporters, buyers, and retailers who are dedicated to improving African trade. Origin Africa harnesses a powerful global trend in social entrepreneurship and works to develop profitable, sustainable, and mutually beneficial long-term relationships between U.S. and East African firms. In this way, USAID COMPETE is contributing to changing perceptions about doing business in Africa and helping to make the continent a preferred sourcing destination.

Origin Africa continues to make strides in bringing the textile and apparel manufacturing sector and the region's designers together. This year Origin Africa 2012 – Ethiopia took place in Addis Ababa from 24 – 27 April.  COMPETE’s trade association partner, The African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation, (ACTIF) the voice of the textile industry in Africa, is took the lead in organizing the 4-day Trade Expo, Seminar Series and Origin Africa Designer Showcase in partnership with Hub of Africa Fashion Week. Origin Africa 2012 – Ethiopia provided the ideal combination of business and investment opportunities, information and knowledge sharing and a chance to highlight designer creativity, aesthetics and quality.

“As the lion economy awakes, global investors know that it is time to start learning about Africa. Origin Africa represents a powerful trend in social entrepreneurship and empowerment and is helping to make Africa the new frontier for business,” said COMPETE’s fiber/textile/apparel specialist Barry Fisher.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi formally opened Origin Africa 2012. In his opening remarks he focused on the textile and garment sector of Ethiopia, noting that this is the prime time for Ethiopia to excel in the production of textiles in the path towards its industrialization. After cutting the red ribbon and officially opening Origin Africa 2012, the Prime Minister took time to visit the booths at the trade expo and encouraged exhibitors to export their uniquely African products .He was joined by the Deputy Chairman of the African Union Erastus Mwencha, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth and other dignitaries. The positive message resonated that Africa is open for business. In total there are almost 60 exhibitors from 10 countries participating in the in the Origin Africa Trade expo including USAID Ethiopia, the Center for  African Women Economic Empowerment (CAWEE).the West Africa Trade Hub, Katchy Kollections, MAA Garment, Ayka Textiles, Savannah Chic, UniqueEco, and Zanzibar styles.

“We are thrilled to launch our first Origin Africa Trade Expo in Ethiopia,” said Skander Negasi of Trade and Fairs East Africa, the official representative of global trade fair giant Messe Frankfurt.  “Ethiopia is a dynamic market for the textile and apparel industry.  The Trade Expo offers a forum for buyers and sellers to come together under one roof to do business.”

Over 200 delegates attended the event, along with more than 20 buyers from U.S. and European retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, PPR Gucci, Redcats, Oakley, JC Penney, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Elis and Otto Versand, to name but a few.  The seminar program provided investors, buyers and designers opportunities to learn from global experts about green/eco-friendly manufacturing technologies, Africa’s potential in developing niche markets, and building value, brands and export strategies.  Feedback from participants was extremely positive.

One delegate commented, “The business symposiums, trade show and the access to the buyers made this platform was one of the best in Africa.”

The Origin Africa Designer Showcase /Hub of Africa Fashion Week was one of the highlights of the week. There was a stellar line up of over 30 designers on hand at including Kenya's Kiko Romeo, Tanzania’s Jamila Vera Swai, and Bethlehem Alemu of SoleRebels, Ethiopia.  West African designers from Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana and Gambia were also on the catwalk with colorful collections.  Ethiopian designer Mahlet Afework of Mafi presented a streetwise, sassy collection of urban sportswear.  Mafi won the Origin Africa Design Award and she will be on her way to Africa Fashion Week New York (AFWNY) in July. Adiat Disu, the founder of AFWNY, presented the award to Mafi.  But that was not all she had lined up for the night. Adiat said that based on the overwhelming reception that Fikirte Addisu’s Yefikir Designs received last year; she was pleased to extend another invitation to Fikirte to show her latest collection at AFWNY this year.

Tanzania's Doreen Mashika was the evening's big winner taking home the Ethical Fashion Award and the U.S. Retailer Award. The Ethical Fashion Award was presented by the President of Messe Frankfurt (the world's largest trade show firm) Michael Scherpe and Texworld Artistic Director Louis Gerin. Doreen will take part in the Messe Frankfurt Ethical Fashion Show in Paris in September.  Crystal Button of the U.S. online retailer awarded Doreen a supply contract for a featured collection on their website.

As buyers and investors follow through on the connections made at Origin Africa 2012 – Ethiopia look for more news on deals and orders that have been placed as a result of contacts made at Origin Africa 2012.

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East Africa Trade Hub: Creativity, Design and Investment Opportunities Attract Textile and Apparel Industry to Origin Africa 2012 – Ethiopia

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