Investment opportunities presented by the African fashion industry was the main thrust behind a cocktail evening organised by the African Development Bank, together with the Gauteng Tourism Authority and the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, during the just-ended Africa Investment Forum.
Glittering Africa-inspired fashion and fast-paced music wowed invited guests at the ‘Fashionomics Africa’ Cocktail Event, held November 8, alongside the three-day Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The event gathered more than 500 public and private investors, government officials and development practitioners to celebrate and make the case for investing in the African creative industries.
In Africa, the creative industries, especially fashion, are important sources of job creation, notably for youth and women, economic growth and regional integration. ‘The African Experience’ Fashionomics Africa event showcased the talent of African entrepreneurs and artisans who have demonstrated unique concepts and artistry, with a visible “made in Africa” brand, for a growing middle class.
The Bank, in partnership with Africa Fashion International (AFI) founded by Dr. Precious Motsepe and Fashion Without Borders (FWB), showcased 9 designers – seven women and two men – from South Africa, Nigeria, Swaziland, Botswana and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Addressing the guests, Bank Director Vanessa Moungar said: “The fashion industry globally is expected to double in the next 10 years, generating up to US$ 5 trillion annually. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Africa at various levels of the value chain: from design to production to marketing, the fashion industry is a profitable business.”
Through Fashionomics Africa, the Bank aims to draw investments into the African Textile and Fashion Industry, via a value chain approach – from the cotton farmers to the retail stores.
“Africa’s role as both a consumer and producer of fashion is on the rise. Powered by e-commerce and social media, demand for African fashion is likely to be further boosted by the continent’s growing middle class, which is the fastest growing in the world, with consumer spending expected to hit 1.4 trillion by 2020,“ Moungar said.
Motsepe urged leaders and investors to consider the Fashion industry as an investment opportunity and to start supporting local designers and local manufacturing firms.
“Our designers have the capacity to compete on the global stage, what they need is a conducive environment to scale up their production,” Motsepe said.
Samuel Mensah, founder of Kisua an innovative digital platform that offers exclusive contemporary African fashion online said: “Around 70% in the fashion supply chain are women. We must capture its full potential for job creation and new trade patterns.’
The Bank’s Department of Gender, Women and Civil Society, headed by Moungar, has launched a two-year Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace program in five pilot countries (South Africa, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Kenya).
The goal of this is to enable African women and youth designers and fashion entrepreneurs to create and grow their businesses. The speciﬁc objectives of the platform are four-fold: to increase access to markets, facilitate access to ﬁnance; to provide mentorship and networking opportunities; and to develop skills and qualifications of the target group.
The Fashionomics Africa platform will generate data and develop a pipeline of viable MSMEs in order to support commercial banks and potential investors (including alternative finance channels) to have a better understanding of their businesses.
The expected outcomes are the facilitation of greater access to commercial loans for fashion entrepreneurs, increased transparency and more commercial banks lending to the sector. The data generated is expected to help fashion entrepreneurs to enhance their business plans when applying for loans.