Digital Innovation Drives Growth Of African Fashion Industry

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A New Report By Ananse.com has revealed that with more targeted investments, Africa could transform into a global exporter for the fashion and creative sector and serve as a model of inclusive growth.

The study which was co-authored by Ananse.com, an innovative startup e-commerce platform that serves as a vital link connecting African designers with local and international consumers, in collaboration with the research firm Botho Emerging Markets Group, the Mastercard Foundation, and the African Development Bank’s Fashionomics initiative focused on the transformative role of digital innovation in driving the growth of the African fashion industry.

“The purpose of this research was to understand and define the African fashion sector and the profile of the African fashion entrepreneur, and in so doing, support public, private and development sector actors to build solutions that enable small and micro fashion enterprises in Africa to scale. It calls upon stakeholders to harness the immense potential of digital innovation and invest in the necessary infrastructure and policies to support the success of fashion creatives on the continent,” commented Ananse.com founder Sam Mensah, a Ghanaian ex-Silicon Valley executive and fashion entrepreneur.

The White Paper entitled “Unleashing the Commercial Potential of African Creatives Through Digital Technology” was launched today on the international fashion business intelligence platform The Business of Fashion Live, providing valuable insights into the state of the African creative sector, and the transformative role played by digital innovation in driving the growth of the African fashion industry.

 The report underscores the importance of user-friendly digital platforms tailored to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, facilitating their access to global markets. It highlights the need for digital and marketing training, as well as assistance in securing and delivering large orders, to enhance the success of African fashion creatives.

 Key findings from the report include:

 The African creative sector represents a vibrant and untapped market with significant economic potential.

  Digital innovation is creating unprecedented opportunities for African fashion creatives, enabling them to reach global audiences and achieve commercial success.

 Investment in skills development, e-commerce infrastructure, and policy support is crucial to unlocking the full potential of African creatives.

 Collaborative efforts among stakeholders, including governments, private sector entities, and development organizations, are essential for fostering a thriving creative ecosystem.

The study employed a mixed research approach, involving both primary and secondary research. The primary research entailed a comprehensive 43-question survey that included a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions, from respondents in 46 countries, with Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa ranking among the top three countries. The White Paper also draws attention to the gender disparity within the creative entrepreneurship space in Africa. The study found that although women dominate the creative sector, they are disproportionately affected by low earnings – only 32% of women entrepreneurs generate more than USD $500 in monthly sales compared to 42% of men. Women are also less skilled in the use of digital technologies and make less use of e-commerce and digital payments – women were 31% less likely than men to have an e-commerce website.

 It emphasizes the importance of targeted policies and strategies that support women-led small and medium-sized businesses, addressing the specific challenges faced by female-owned creative enterprises. Policymakers are urged to expand vocational training programs that address the inadequate business, digital, and marketing skills among fashion entrepreneurs in Africa, especially women. Such interventions will better prepare creative small and micro enterprises to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Improved policy coordination accompanied by collaborative investments by public, private and development sector organizations has the potential to catalyze new value chains to the benefit of the creative economy in Africa and around the world.