Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

‘Trade not aid’ says Bono:

“Africa does not need charity, it needs investments and partnership," according to UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon.
By Motherpedia
Date: November 23 2012
Editor Rating:

Three people who believe passionately in the potential of Africa, and have the money to do something about it, have done just that.

Bono, his wife Ali Hewson and the founder of the Diesel fashion group, Renzo Rosso, have formed a new label known as Diesel+EDUN which is to be sold in Diesel outlets worldwide. EDUN is the fashion company owned by Bono and Hewson.

The three thought of the collaboration when they visited Africa together earlier this year to visit Renzo’s Millennium Village in Mali and the Bono/Hewson cotton farming program in northern Uganda.

“We are producing beautiful clothes made from our cotton and 100 per cent made in Africa,” says Hewson.

The collection, which is known as ‘Studio Africa’, uses raw, untreated denim cut, sewn and washed in Northern African countries using cotton from Uganda.

To all three, the initiative is a small, but significant, part of a bigger picture of investment in a continent that is rich in people, land and diversity.

“With this project we want to show to consumers and to the industry alike, that it is indeed possible to source, produce and generate sustainable trade — and, hence, development — in Africa,” says Rosso.

He wants the fashion industry not only to bring trade to Africa, but also to channel and give visibility to the continent’s creativity in style, fabric design and craftsmanship.

Ms Hewson says there have been “kinks” along the way but Diesel+Edun are in it for the long haul.

“We are a tiny company with big ambitions — one of which was to persuade some of the fashion heavyweights to take more interest in this part of the world. The business environment is getting easier in many places, and the more people and companies that show interest, the quicker that will change.”

EDUN’s cotton farming program in Uganda started with 500 farmers in 2005 and is now supporting 8,500 farmers.

While the trio are all strong on philanthropy, Rosso says that’s not why they’re doing it.

“I think working in Africa is both brave and smart: Brave because we are currently investing our time and money in building know-how in these parts of the world; and smart because Africa is the next big market, as the Chinese have already understood before anyone else.”

“This isn’t about philanthropy. We are doing it to generate sustainable development. Africa is a rich continent: rich in resources, rich in culture, rich in the ambition to grow permanently.”

Rosso’s Only the Brave Foundation has also built a secondary school in Mali, with a dormitory for students from remote areas and a range of other projects.

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