Distinguished guests, exhibitors, buyers and partners; Welcome to the first edition of East Africa Textile and Leather week (EATLW) at the Sarit Expo Center, Nairobi, Kenya.
Over the last few years, the textile and Leather market has experienced tremendous growth not only in Kenya but in East Africa as whole, even attracting multiple huge international players through massive acquisition deals. The key drivers of this sector have been strong population growth, a ballooning middle-class, an educated workforce and EAC unshakeable position as the sales and distribution hub for the larger African African market. With the recent inclusion of DR Congo that will strengthen the voice of EAC in the AfCFTA there’s no other better time than now.
With Africas textile industry being valued at $15.5billion, which a drop in the ocean compared to the global share, it’s important that Micro, small and medium enterprises get an opportunity to showcase their unlimited potential to the market.
Like other industries, the textile and leather industry was and is still hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the exhibitions had been postponed indefinitely for the past two years ,Billions of dollars’ worth of orders placed with manufacturers around the world had been cancelled and these industries are barely trying to pick up the pieces. The small business were seriously affected and this exhibition is one of those platforms that will start breathing life and bringing hope to many affected young designers in EAC.
The textile and leather industry has always been remarkably resilient. Both locally and internationally, we saw most textile and Leather companies switch their manufacturing to mass production of hand sanitizers masks and medical items to be afloat.
EATLW therefore really comes at an opportune time, allowing the industry in Kenya and beyond to not only overcome the logistical restrictions and continue to communicate with critical suppliers and manufacturers; but more importantly, prepare the industry for a complete shift in the way business will be conducted over the next decade. For indeed we are on a different phase of normalcy.
There is a lot of potential in the East African fashion and Leather industry. In fact, the sector has been identified in Kenya’s Vision 2030 as a pathway to industrialization because of its incredible economic potential.
Therefore, I am elated to welcome everyone of you to EATLW and I hope that you will take advantage of the incredible opportunities in this Exhibition to establish and grow your presence in the East African market.
It’s the beginning of a new era. It’s time we told our own stories and proudly position our African brands in the global market. I am honored to be part of this great journey as a partner and I look forward to see it not only grow but add value to the young designer across Africa as we keep lighting their candles at Fashion Agenda Africa empowering them to view fashion as a business and being good stewards of what God has bestowed upon us.
President and Founder: The Akinyi Odongo Group