Establishing an Ethical Retail Business in Africa

AKOJO MARKET, in collaboration with Zara Odu of Designer’s Consociate, has authored a toolkit for start-up designers and brands wishing to operate ethically and sustainable on the African continent and beyond.

We’ve delved into the challenges that can make being ethical difficult, the “sustainability” terms used and how to break through industry jargon, and where to begin sourcing locally in Africa. Our expert contributors include:

  • Liz Ricketts (The OR Foundation) – discussing the second-hand clothing market in Africa and the importance of working alongside the local communities, not just regarding it as a “sustainable” source of material and an innovation of your own;
  • Jacqueline Shaw (Africa Fashion Guide) – providing expert insights into sourcing local materials across Africa and how to harness indigenous processes; and
  • Sandra Capponi (Good on You app) – offering Good on You’s perspective on what constitutes transparency and how they assess the ethics of a business based on their core operating procedures.

We explore topics including creating a supply chain that gives you visibility over all workers including fair wages, risks posed by government & administrative tasks, navigating design & harnessing cultural influences ethically, without appropriating, where and what to source in Africa and which textiles and processes are local to which communities. We’ve included links to calculate your carbon emissions, and work out the living wage in the country you operate in. We’ve also covered questions you may have on your mind:

  • Wondered what to ask suppliers and how to have leverage with suppliers?
  • Felt that the terms used by big brands lacked substance or evidence to hold them accountable?
  • Seen that a product was “locally made” without understanding who this is local to?

“We hope that this toolkit will serve as a guide for brands in Africa who are looking to incorporate conscious and sustainable practices into their brand ethos.” – Zara Odu

Together with the authors, we strive for equal opportunity for all creatives, especially those passionate about supporting communities and their local environment, and this starter toolkit is entirely free to download. Please get in touch with us if you have specific questions.

Read Toolkit & Download