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How can Africa’s fashion entrepreneurs access finance to grow their businesses?

December 17, 2020

Enhancing access to finance for Africa’s fashion entrepreneurs is critical if the industry is to develop its full potential and tap global markets in a post-COVID-19 world. That was the topline  message at a Fashionomics Africa webinar hosted on 10 December by the African Development Bank and the HEVA Fund.   Roughly 150 fashion entrepreneurs and creative minds attended the fourth edition of the Fashionomics series, focused on finance. The discussion covered the challenges faced by fashion entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, in Africa’s creative industries.   Participants were also presented with opportunities to access finance from investment funds including the Alithea IDF Fund, for which the African Development Bank is an anchor investor; the Women’s Investment Club (WIC) Capital; the African Export-Import Bank; the State Bank of Mauritius; Thundafund and Senegalese clothing brand, SARAYAA.   Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society said the ongoing pandemic has prompted adaptations and innovations to keep Africa’s $31 billion fashion industry thriving.   “The crisis provides an opportunity to set up targeted support mechanisms and develop new and innovative financial tools for the textile, apparel and accessories industry that will not only help the entrepreneurs make it through, but set the basis for them to grow their businesses going forward,” she said.   Evelyne Dioh Simpa, managing director at WIC Capital, which invests in businesses run by women in Francophone West Africa, stressed the importance of developing financial products and capacity building tailored to fashion entrepreneurs.   Safiétou Seck, founder and creative director of SARAYAA recently attracted $230,000 in investment from WIC Capital to expand operations and grow the brand.   “For me, banking was the best option to scale up my business. My advice would be: be patient, you are going to be rejected many times, but fashion is going to make you stick with it,” Seck said of trying to raise capital.   New solutions, including alternative financing channels, will be key for fashion entrepreneurs, said Matt Roberts-Davies, chief operating officer of Thundafund, South Africa’s leading online crowdfunding marketplace for creatives and innovators.   He encouraged entrepreneurs to be brave. “Put yourself out there and find the crowd of people that loves what you do,” he said.   Fashionomics Africa promotes investments in the textile and fashion sectors by leveraging data, information and communication technologies to drive development. The initiative also aims to increase entrepreneurs’ access to finance via traditional and non-traditional channels, while providing business skills to start-up founder and staff as well as to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.   The Fashionomics Africa webinar series is available for fashion entrepreneurs, digital enthusiasts and creative minds on the Fashionomics platform (available on both iOS and Android). To watch previous episodes, click here. *AfDB

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