Dakar Design Hub
The companies in the textile industry play a key role in Senegal's economy. According to the National Agency for Statistics and Demography of Senegal, they represent around eleven per cent of the companies in the private sector. But they generate only slightly more than one per cent of the total turnover of all the country's companies. In addition, the businesses, most of them informal, also tend to be very small, making it difficult for them to meet the requirements of the ever more demanding clientele.
'The apparel and garment companies, in which many women are employed, have some benefits such as the strong regional demand for products with the "Made in Senegal" label', explained designer Sophie Nzinga Sy, head of the Women in Fashion association. 'However, they have to deal with numerous challenges, including the training level of workers, the low employability of women and young people, the difficult access to financial support and equipment, only basic management skills and a lack of compliance with standards required to access the international market. These obstacles are exacerbated by difficulties in procuring raw materials such as cotton and high-quality threads.’
Despite the challenges, Nzinga Sy sees great potential in the fashion and textile industry for promoting economic growth and social development on the continent. Supported by Invest for Jobs, Women in Fashion has established the Dakar Design Hub (DDH), a training and textile design centre in Popenguine, which is located around one hour from the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
DDH is an initiative involved in the Senegalese textile industry's value chain, which includes the promotion of Senegalese cotton, the processing method, as well as the provision of finished products for the local and international market. The centre also supports the promotion of knowledge and training in the skilled crafts and fashion sectors. 'DDH's goal is to reform, structure and professionalise the Senegalese textile and design industry, making it more dynamic and thus more competitive on the world market,' Nzinga Sy explained.
It comprises several components, including a design school, a production site for supporting young designers, a mobile training programme which will offer services in the whole of Senegal and the subregion, as well as a digital platform which will raise the profile of the textile and cotton industries' main stakeholders.
Nzinga Sy's vision is to train the African designers of tomorrow, structure Senegal's design ecosystem and support women and young people through innovative services and a well-founded programme for accompanying and creating jobs. She also hopes to improve Senegal's global positioning in the design sector and upgrade and export Senegalese know-how.
With the support of Invest for Jobs, the DDH plans to train around 300 young people and create 200 new jobs by 2024. To this end, Invest for Jobs has supported the centre by providing materials such as sewing and embroidery machines, with public relations work in conjunction with the opening of the Dakar Design Hub and with developing curricula for training courses and workshops.
Invest for Jobs already worked with Women in Fashion during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the association manufactured around 20,000 face masks and 1,000 hospital bed sheets at the outset of the pandemic in Senegal. The masks were distributed to families in need and the sheets were donated to undersupplied hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. At the same time, these efforts enabled around 100 jobs to be preserved in the textile sector.
The Dakar Design Hub was opened in Popenguine in November 2021. Since then, with the support of Invest for Jobs, 50 young designers and tailors have been trained. In this context, they have learned more about entrepreneurship, fashion and skilled crafts, as well as about developing their own brand. In 2022, a further 120 people will participate in multi-week workshops and three- to six-month training courses.
The association Women in Fashion is being supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) within the framework of the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation.
A project with
Revitalisation of the Senegalese Textile Industry
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