Ethiopia is a country with a very deep history and even has its own calendar. Until recently its rich fashion sector has only been appreciated locally, but with a world known super model and century old textile industry the country is popping on the global fashion radar.
The horn of Africa country’s rich cultural heritage has been given a modern twist and it is finding success in the fashion industry abroad.
As a result, fashion design is proving to be one of the most successful Ethiopian sectors for small business and entrepreneurs, generating profit margins ranging from 50 percent to more than 100 percent, according to a BBC News report.
Several companies, such as Yefikir Design a brain child of local fashion designer Fikirte Addis, are flourishing in Ethiopia and are taking on international partnerships to reach an ever growing demand abroad.
“I do see a trend of Ethiopian fashion going abroad,” Mahlet Teklemariam, the organizer of Addis Ababa Fashion Week, told CNN.
“A lot of international companies are investing in Ethiopia. The Turkish have a lot of big companies producing here and H&M are producing here.”
Getting into the international market however has come with a few challenges like lack of financing from local banks for local fashion shops to upscale globally. There is also difficulty in getting payments from international buyers.
Banking restrictions in Ethiopia mean there are no foreign banks in the country, and international customers are often suspicious of paying into African accounts, Fikirte told BBC News.
Yefikir currently sells through Africa Design Hub, a US-based online store founded in 2013 by Western expatriates to showcase African designs while bridging markets.