Meet The 3 Kenyan Designers Selected To Join The ‘Ethical Fashion Initiative’s Accelerator Programme

by Abigail Oluwakemi
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The Ethical Fashion Initiative – a joint venture of the UN and WTO’s International Trade Centre, has selected three Kenyan designers to participate in the second Ethical Fashion Initiative Accelerator programme; Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa, SUAVE and HAMAJI.

The chosen designers all share a commitment to sustainability, using reclaimed and organic fabrics to create their collections, whilst noting their country and upbringing in Kenya as heavily inspiring their work.

The launch of the EFI Kenya Fashion Accelerator highlights the distinct design talent within Kenya and follows the organisation’s successful launch of their nationwide accelerator search in 2019. Selected designers benefit from mentoring and brand development from the EFI team and industry experts.

“I feel hugely honoured and extremely excited to be a part of the EFI accelerator programme, to have this opportunity to expand my knowledge and be mentored in the development of my brand in a sustainable approach with international and local expertise in Kenya” says selected brand HAMAJI.

Hamaji

Katush by Katungulu Mwendwa says of being selected to join the programme: “This is completely surreal! There have been times where it has felt completely overwhelming to have to learn to wear a thousand hats with limited guidance, and like an answer to a prayer often said, this comes as a strong statement of encouragement.”

Ethical Fashion Initiative

Katush

Whilst Mohammed Awale of SUAVE says of their selection: “I’m really overjoyed to be selected for the EFI Kenya accelerator program. Looking forward to learning from the vast EFI network.”

Ethical Fashion Initiative

Suave

Simone Cipriani, Head and Founder of the Ethical Fashion Initiative at the UN’s International Trade Centre says: “The continued development of our designer accelerator programmes in Africa, provide a new generation of African design talent the opportunity to engage with the international market. Through education and mentoring we seek to equalise the playing field, giving exposure to the incredible talent that exists on the continent. Each region in Africa has its own unique creative voice. Being able to launch a programme dedicated to Kenya – the country where EFI began its journey and where it has some of the most beautiful collaborations – is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the creative visionaries that set this country apart.”

The EFI Accelerator programme focuses on the specific needs of African fashion brands, with a business development approach that prepares its beneficiaries to become investment ready. The accelerator targets existing fashion brands producing in Africa, who require additional support to accelerate their business in the global marketplace.

The EFI has been helping to bring African Fashion Design to the world stage since 2013. Having previously mentored a number of African fashion brands and brought designers to events such as Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, Pitti Uomo and Altaroma. The EFI is a flagship program of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

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