The scope

The International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) is offering a feasibility study for the growing number of institutions requiring tangible frameworks and solutions for the promotion of circularity practices and policies. 

Through its Kenya social enterprise, Artisan Fashion, EFI can offer immediate access to 18,000 ft2 of factory in Nairobi’s Export Processing Zone complete with: 12 years of production experience and a team of over 50 designers, preparers and machinists.

This study of research will provide:

1) Reporting on second-hand clothing (post-consumer and post-industrial) from its supply channels to its use in circular design and production processes 

2) Training materials and programmes to guide designers and producers in the use of second-hand clothing as a viable raw material for production

3) Data for policy frameworks regulating second-hand clothing imports, providing practical input to existing programmes such as ITC’s Green to Compete hubs, UNIDO Switch to CE and UNEP’s Eco-Innovation


18 months for research and reporting, with the potential for training and policy making to continue indefinitely.

Why Kenya

Every year, 140,000 tonnes of discarded clothing is shipped to Kenya.

The resulting constraints upon local production limit employment opportunities and economic development. Policy makers are balancing short-term costs (it is estimated that over one million jobs are linked to the mitumba sector) with long-term gains (Kenya has the stated objective of doubling manufacturing’s contribution to GDP by 2030).

Whilst countries such as Rwanda have recently banned imports of second-hand clothing to protect local producers: in Kenya, there is the opportunity to develop a more creative intervention policy. A policy perspective with the potential for replication throughout the African continent, home to the majority of the world’s discarded clothing.

Why now

The ITC’s EFI has the capacity to deliver this feasibility study immediately. A study from which findings can be shared and trainings/processes can be replicated. Through existing relationships with the Department for Trade and Industry, postconsumer (mitumba) suppliers, and international brands: our social enterprise on the ground in Kenya can start engaging all stakeholders in advocating for a fresh perspective. A perspective to help shape policy for the future.


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