ASOS Africa‚Äôs line is not only inspired by Africa but is also produced in Africa. ASOS has been working with our production partner, cut-and-sew house SOKO-Kenya, for over four years now. The international fashion company‚Äôs commitment to working in Kenya (and in other sustainable ways) has paid off; sales from their green line grow with each collection, which has allowed ASOS to invest deeper in their supply chain community.
As a result of ASOS‚Äôs continued orders, SOKO-Kenya was able to expand their small coast-side factory into Wildlife Work‚Äôs production site in the Kenyan bush located between Tsavo East and West National parks. With our combined resources, we are able to better support both our clients and our surrounding community. Seeing the impact of their orders to sustain jobs in a poverty-stricken area, The ASOS Foundation became interested in donating to the Kasigau communities to maximize their benefaction in 2013. With the help of Wildlife Works‚Äô and our deep relationships with our community leaders, ASOS has been able to effectively and directly put money into areas of most need.
The ASOS Foundation‚Äôs first donation totaled Ksh 124,755 (US $ 1,430) and was put towards the renovation of Bungule Youth Polytechnic (BYP) in April 2013. The money was designated primarily for the renovation of doors, roofs, windows, door locks, wall paintings, as well as workshop equipment. A later donation of Ksh 1,227,280 (US $ 14,000) was then allocated for the building of office furniture and beds, construction of a water tank, installation of electricity and electrical wiring, and teachers‚Äô salaries. These renovations were essential to providing a safe and comfortable environment for the students and teachers to further their education goals.
The biggest donation, however, went towards the construction of the Kula Kila Rock Catchment in Kasigau location. For this project the ASOS Foundation donated Ksh 5,777,269 (US $ 66,200) for the excavation of the site, construction of catchment walls and a 250,000 liter water tank! This project has been an incredible success and will result in a great improvement for the life of the communities.
Water is a very scarce resource in this semi-arid environment, but through the new water catchment, communities are able to harvest the rainwater for use in dry spells. During this year‚Äôs rains, the tank has already filled up twice, and we hope it will continue to do so. ¬† The latest donation representing the most direct investment in their supply chain in Kenya, was to SOKO‚Äôs own charitable trust to open the ASOS-Foundation-sponsored new Stitching Academy, which opened its doors in Maungu in June 2014.
With an ever-increasing need for qualified seamstresses, the Stitching Academy is a sewing training facility that offers a 2-month training course to 10 people at a cost of Ksh 3,000 (US $34.00). The curriculum has been designed in-house and will provide students with the technical skills required for the garment manufacturing industry hence improving students‚Äô chances of securing employment and/or setting up small enterprises of their own.
SOKO put the word out amongst the local community earlier this year and held numerous interviews in May. Twenty-four men and women attended this recruitment process, amongst which SOKO selected the first 10 students. SOKO held an official opening ceremony on the 19th June at the Stitching Academy‚Äôs site in Maungu, together with three official visitors from ASOS. Joanna Maiden, SOKO‚Äôs founder and Director, is extremely excited about this new project and sees this as having an empowering impact on the local communities. It is planned to hold four courses per year, with the next course due to begin in September this year. We applaud ASOS for producing against the tide of fast fashion. Their sustainable supply chain strategy has proven to align with their profit goals and their customers are responding.