Through arranging Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in 2014 and 2015, PfC has developed a contact network of women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia. This was strengthened when PfC was responsible for arranging a women’s trade delegation from Ethiopia to Norway in 2015. PfC has continued its cooperation with various groups of women entrepreneurs.
There are many talented and creative designers in Ethiopia, and the raw materials there such as cotton and leather are among the best in the world. However, it is well known that young designers have difficulties with
- finding a place where they can produce their products
- a lack of English language skills that makes it harder to reach the international market
- applying the high-quality finishing touches to the products, particularly important for export
- finding mentors
- gaining expertise and using social media
- a lack of equipment – e.g. modern sewing machines
- access to further education in design, production and marketing.
This is why PfC is working with young women designers in Ethiopia. In 2015 PfC ran the project “Empowering Young Designers”, in cooperation with CAWEE (Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment). Sixteen talented designers completed a mentoring programme leading up to WED 2015. Eight finalists were selected out of the programme to show their collections at WED. PfC has cooperated with the School of Fashion Industry (SOFI) in Norway on this project. Among other things, the head of SOFI, Kari Søreide, served as a juror during the fashion contest.
The winner, Meroe Seid, works with leather, creating both handbags and clothing. The prize she won was a study tour at SOFI. The second place winner, Makeda Zeleke, creates modern clothes with an ethnic inspiration. She won a study tour with a renowned designer in Kenya.
PfC also connected the designers with Africa 118, an IT company co-owned by the Norwegian TRG Group. Africa 118 provided the designers with free help to set up professional websites.
Several of the designers in the programme now export to the US and Europe, and as a direct result of the trade delegation, several have gained access to the Norwegian market. The result is that more young designers can gain access to the international market, and thus create more jobs. PfC also believes that such a programme will lay the groundwork for a collaborative forum where women can learn from each other, develop specific cooperation projects and form a community.