Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


July 3rd, 2018

Source Ethiopia…BUT Africa doesn’t have a textile industry! RIGHT??

Misconceptions 2.0…

I am starting a mini email series on sourcing opportunities in Ethiopia over July but first wanted to share this with you. Do make sure to sign up for the email subscription to receive the 4 week series and to receive more industry updates from us going forward.

I love to share and so I posted a quote on some months back concerning fashion manufacturing in Africa. Innocent, right?

Those who know me know I regularly put up informative posts via my personal LinkedIn account relating to sustainability and Africa’s textile industry, These posts have become very popular and some receive OVER 6000 views each, they drum up a lot of conversation.

Relating to this topic I had one particular response from a China based manufacturer who questioned when AFRICA became a manufacturer for clothing. He went on to say that he has worked in fashion for 20 years and when he last went to South Africa there was nothing there.

So I, as the Director of Social Enterprise Africa Fashion Guide promoting the full supply chain of Africa’s fashion and textile industry; me as one who has worked in the international Fashion industry myself for nearly 20 years, in four countries and over four continents; me as one who has visited and worked with factories in-house AND, mind you, even set up my own fashion label sourcing from and producing in East and West Africa, I think I’ve seen and heard quite a bit relating to fashion and Africa and make it a priority to know my stuff.

Therefore this comment from him brought a few things to my mind, which reveals a lot of misconceptions and leads me to bring another KEY consideration for you to take on board when setting up your fashion business in Africa.

Number 1 – Africa is NOT a country 

– but a continent of 54 country states with differing governments, cultures, skills, languages, industries etc. So it is imperative to understand the country and market you are doing business in.

Number 2 – Your Perception is a reflection of you 

– Africa has been perceived as the Dark Continent which needs to rely on others. But those who think this simply are not able to see the Africa the Lion Continent, or the Africa rising / risen narrative. Those who are believers in Africa (even with all the good and bad press) reflect this in their perceptions of Africa and spread the message of their belief.

Number 3 – That there is NO textile industry in Africa

– Admittedly I have yet to travel the whole continent but have visited quite a few countries so far and repeatedly and have also links in much more. On top of this I have myself met manufacturers, artisans, producers, craftspeople, designers, retailers as well as visited factories and mills and know more are arising (for example new business parks in Ethiopia, Senegal, Kenya and Rwanda!). My network is uber crazy big grown over a ten year period and proof of an existing textile in the ‘Dark Continent’ we call ‘country Africa’ (yep…puns intended).

So this was derived from this Chinese man’s comment on my post. But I do believe he raised an interesting point of which there are other factors linked to this.

Here we have the main problems with Africa’s existing textile industry:

Aid is a major issue. Governance. Export and trade policies. Textile processing. The lack of machinery and technology keeps Africa’s textile industry behind Asia

So lets squash this with some BIG opposing AWESOME strengths:

– With a relatively young continent around 50% is under 25years old, a young workforce and many Diasporans are returning home.

– Africa is on the road to have a market of 2.4 billion people by the year 2050 – an opportunity great for local and international retail, and a market to create jobs for through your own business models.

– Somewhere like Ghana is one of the 20 markets of the future by research company Euromonitor with clothing manufacturing amongst agriculture, construction and tobacco being fuels for growth!

– Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are key for design and retailers are setting up there in particular

– Ethiopia is presently Africa’s hotspot with H&M, Primark, and Tesco opened there.


My Observations 

– I have highlighted the need to create a responsible textile supply chain that considers people, planet as well as profit and prevents stories such as the Bangladesh 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse (which killed 1133 people) happening to African countries.

– I have identified local textiles and the importance of sourcing local, buying local and trading local as well as developing intra-continent trade.

– To be different in business you need to give evidence due to the external perceptions of the industry you’re in, But command it by how you present your business and ultimately by not just doing things well but doing business better.


I want to disrupt the Colonial gaze and encourage SME African fashion business owners to COMMAND your presence in this industry. And now our Fashion Africa Sourcing Trips give you the chance to do this. We just returned from Kenya (see highlight video here) and are now travelling to Ethiopia in October!

Book here for Ethiopia

Pay in full here –

With payment plan here –


We have a slots left for you! so are you ready to join us?

Do check out the link and if you are actively interested then book today! If you need to talk it through no problem, then lets set up an initial 20minute Skype call and discuss things further before you make your investment.

Don’t worry, I am here to help you.

Do stay with me and we will #gofast together.

Do remember to to sign up for the email subscription to receive the 4 week series and to receive more industry updates from us.


With love from Africa

Jacqueline Shaw

Your African Fashion Business Coach

Founding Director – Africa Fashion Guide Ltd



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  1. Kapil Sewani

    I have been doing business with a few African countries & I have to agree with you completely, If a proper supply chain is created there is no stopping African Manufacturing

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