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A Passion for Sustainable Fashion

CESO Communications November 26, 2020

Fikirte Addis inspects a band of traditional Ethiopian fabric. The carefully woven material will be repurposed into a culturally inspired gown, her latest design pencilled in an open sketchbook nearby.

This is how Fikirte, the internationally recognized fashion designer from Ethiopia, spends her time since launching Yefikir Design—a clothing company dedicated to ethical and sustainable production.  

Since creating her business in 2009, Fikirte has stayed true to her vision. She minimizes waste by upholding production guidelines that reduce electricity consumption and upcycling material. The new textiles Fikirte uses are hand woven by local artists. “Through our work, we sustain craftsmanship and support artisans and their families,” says Fikirte.

A woman spins wool by hand.
Photo: Selima Punjani, courtesy of Yefikir Design

Fikirte was connected with CESO Advisor Allan Anderson through the Ethiopia e-Mentorship Program with the Ethiopian Women Exporters Association (EWEA).

CESO’s assistance, both in-person and online, helped Fikirte and her employees improve their product pricing, marketing and bookkeeping.

“Allan had extensive expertise and improved my company,” shares Fikirte. “His financial insight is one of the most important improvements that happened in my company.”

CESO’s partnership with Yefikir Design also improved staff’s weaving abilities and eventually led to the company’s participation in a world textile exhibition. With improved visibility, by the next year, Yefikir Design saw a 25 per cent increase in sales and a 13 per cent increase in profit.

Since then, Yefikir Design has grown substantially. The company has employed over 70 artists and weavers.

“Allan had extensive expertise and improved my company.”

The landscape of the fashion industry looks a little different now. The pandemic has closed shows and exhibitions but it could not put a stop to Fikirte’s boundless creativity and passion for sustainable fashion.

“Yefikir is diversifying products with a great team—even in such hard times like now,” Fikirte explains.

Equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed, Fikirte continues to benefit members of her community through the supply chain while serving as an inspiration to women entrepreneurs and artisans who contribute to continuous economic growth in Ethiopia.

The support of CESO Advisors who share skills to build a brighter future is needed now more than ever.

Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. 1-800-268-9052
Canadian Executive Service Organization CESO | SACO is a registered charity (BN 11883 0850 RR 0001), with no political or religious affiliations. Copyright CESO-SACO 2019 • All Rights Reserved
CESO thanks and gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Global Affairs Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and our private-sector supporters.
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