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Kenya's "Fierce Sun" - an update on the Ethical Fashion Africa project

There is a growing number of job seekers among Kenya’s 41 million population, and many are turning to what’s known as jua kali (translated as “fierce sun” in Swahili or “informal sector” in English) to earn a living. Some hand-carve bones in the slums of Kiberia, while others do beadwork in the outskirts of Nairobi.

In 2010, FLA began a special project with the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Ethical Fashion Initiative, which works with marginalized communities of women in Kenya and Uganda to supply income-generating opportunities to assist the groups in reducing poverty. The Ethical Fashion Initiative enables international fashion companies and distributors to source from African communities without bias in price or quality, thus allowing groups of marginalized artisans to become part of the larger global value chain.

ITC turned to FLA for assistance in the development of applicable labor standards and implementation mechanisms. This summer, FLA published a progress report on the first two years of this project.

A September 3 article in the New York Times explores the Ethical Fashion Initiative and its impact on workers and the brands they produce for. From the article: [ETI] “was a life-changer for Steven Adawo Kine, a determined and energetic welder. With money made by melting metal on a basic forge in a slum hovel, he has become a registered jeweler, selling metal and bone accessories from a cabin on the outskirts of Kibera.”

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