Member Spotlight: Ethical Apparel Africa (EAA)
The apparel industry employs 60 million workers globally, yet is often known for exploitative practices: unsafe working environments, unfair pay, lack of job security and benefits, harassment and discrimination. The frontier of apparel manufacturing is moving to Africa, which offers an opportunity to do things differently and create jobs at scale, in particular for women.
EAA is a women-founded and led sourcing and manufacturing enterprise working to ‘get it right from the start’ by establishing an ethical manufacturing model in Ghana’s emerging industry. Since 2015, EAA has attracted buyers to the region, built factories’ export capacity and capability, and embedded operational excellence with a people-first approach across the industry.
Over the years, EAA has been able to build strong partnerships with local garment factories, the government, development agencies, international investors and brands to create a new ethical manufacturing hub in West Africa. In 2021 they closed a Series A investment to acquire a majority stake in a high potential factory, and have grown it from 50 to 500 employees, 75% women, and over 80% under the age of 30.
EAA offers a clear value proposition to US buyers (ethical, duty free, quick shipping times, cost competitive, supply chain diversification) resulting in interest from some of the largest apparel companies in the world. This has allowed EAA to continue to invest in innovative programs that not only empower the workforce, but also protect the planet.
EAA has created a model factory that also runs as a learning lab, implementing innovative tools to measure workforce wellbeing, mental health and job satisfaction at regular intervals. The company is piloting and testing innovative compensation interventions to assess how this impacts workers’ wellbeing and gender equity. From an environmental point of view, EAA has transitioned to solar energy, started segregating waste at scale to reduce plastic and paper waste, while changing behaviors and mentalities.
EAA works with nonprofits in skills training and workforce empowerment programs delivering skills training to over 35 factories in patterns, mechanics and production skills in partnership with US, German and UK donor agencies, and helping to raise money to kickstart and develop worker empowerment and health programs with a focus on empowering women to thrive in the workplace. EAA has also launched a campaign to donate medical scrubs to rural healthcare practitioners responding. For every $5 donated, a free set of medical scrubs will be sent directly to a healthcare provider in partnership with the Total Family Health Organization. https://donorbox.org/medical-scrubs-for-ghana-s-frontline-healthcare-workers.
EAA has proven that there should not be any tradeoff between profit and workers’ well being. Their aim is to create 10,000 high quality jobs for women in West Africa by 2030 and is raising social investment for growth.
For more information on any of EAA's programs, please reach out to Paloma Shackert: [email protected]
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