Tomorrow, Tuesday 29th of November, Soul of Africa will be hosting an event, alongside co-organisors Proudly Made in Africa, at The House of Lords.
Together with Official chair of the event, Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey (Crossbench peer and active campaigner for sustainability and ethics in fashion), we will be opening an insightful discussion that focusses on Africa’s growing garments and leather goods industry and its relationship to Britain in the wake of Brexit, calling for an assurance of continued 0% trade tariffs with the African continent. We aim to present the current challenges and opportunities associated with supply chains and the manufacture of goods in Africa, and will combine the expert knowledge of those at the forefront of manufacturing and sourcing in Africa, resulting in a policy paper that structures the need for coninuing 0% tariffs for leather goods and garment importers.
Soul of Africa has been successfully operating on the African continent since 2003 and will be represented in the House of Lords by founder, Lancelot Clark of Clark’s shoes. Since then, Lance has worked to establish the production of shoes in multiple African countries to generate profits to support sustainable local projects and fund the Soul of Africa Charitable Trust. The shoes are sold by both Clarks Shoes and Vivobarefoot, a minimalist shoe company started by Lance’s son Galahad, on the scientifically supported premise that modern, unnaturally shaped shoes can damage the health of our feet. We are currently in the process of establishing a brand new production line in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and this journey will form the foundation of the business case for investing in sustained production in Africa at the event. Soul of Africa professes 4 fundamental values: Hire local employees, train individuals in the skill of shoe making, source materials responsibly and from local regions whenever possible and re-invest in the projects that sustainably grow and enhance the community. The re-investment of profits by the Soul of Africa Trust has helped support over 17,000 children and young people in care and education to date.
Soul of Africa’s current range of shoes, produced in Tunisia and Ethiopia and distributed by Clarks and Vivobarefoot respectively, has been awarded the Proudly Made in Africa Award, a label that marks excellence in African industry for retail goods by assuring quality, ethical production and African-made origin. The award is the brain child of event co-organisers Value Added Africa, who work with a network of over 500 African suppliers in pre-market, marketing and sales support, in order to develop sustainable channels to export markets for African-made goods.
Alongside Soul of Africa and Proudly Made Africa, the event’s panel will include experts Nebil Kellow of Enterprise Partners, a DfID-funded programme supporting the development of light manufacturing sectors in Africa, and Andreas Streubig of the Otto Group, who stand at the forefront of innovation for sustainability in large-scale garments supply chains. With the room promised to be packed with king-pins in the field, ranging all the way from high-end fashion buyers to policy makers, we eagerly await the answer to one of the most important political questions of the sustainable fashion industry : Will 0% tariffs remain post-Brexit?