VENTURES AFRICA – Some might think it’s a passing trend, but fashion in Africa is here to stay and in the process, change lives. From Nigeria, to Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and now Rwanda, there are many innovative ways to improve the fashion industry through the plethora of resources and talented designers.
KEZA which means “beautiful” in the native Kinyarwanda, is a fashion brand that works with artisans in Kenya and Rwanda to produce beautiful, luxury handmade jewelry by using a model of social entrepreneurship. KEZA produces collections of bold statement jewelry that clearly reveal its roots. So far, the products are being sold all over Europe, US and Africa.
The label was created in 2008 by husband and wife- Angaza and Ilea Dorsey as an ethical fashion label to leverage the fashion industry and transform the image and expectations of developing countries.
Their philosophy for KEZA is simple:
“America wants beautiful products; these people want a way to support themselves…We bring those two groups together to create a dignified path out of poverty. There’s too much news about Africa as a place of corruption or AIDS or child soldiers. There’s not enough about the strength and beauty that is Africa. Keza means ‘beautiful’ in the native language of Africa. That’s what we want to bring to the world.”
With the goal of building businesses in Africa by empowering poor women, KEZA set out to discover and train gifted artisans, expand their capacity for design and connect them to the international luxury fashion industry. In addition, the label uses recycled, eco-friendly production processes and materials to contribute to the enhancement of a greener environment.
“We work closely with international designers and world-class design schools to ensure the highest level of design and craftsmanship in each of our exclusive handmade accessories. International designers and fashion students spend four months each year working hands on with indigenous artisans in their local workshops. Each product is the result of a beautiful collaboration between western trained and indigenous artisans in developing countries.”
This model has changed lives and also improved the income of these women to $200-$300 per month, compared to the normal $17 per month they were used to making during their highest peak.
In addition, KEZA works closely with indeginous entities such as governement, universities, associations and artisans to boost the fashion industries in the countries where they work. These entrepreneurs, especially those from poor countries, have overcome tremendous hardships. With direction and assistance in design and production, these businesses have proven to become more profitable and provide more jobs, thereby contributing to the positive image of their country.
The developing world has a large pool of talented designers and resources. Compared to few years ago, the journey from just relying on local tailors has bloosomed into luxury brands and more connections with international markets.
For more information, visit: www.keza.com