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Collections from Ethiopia

When the choice fell on Ethiopia, I must admit that it was first and foremost a choice I made with my heart.
With the projects in Ethiopia, MicMic has the opportunity to make a small difference in a country characterized by imbalance and lack of education and work.

My parents have always appreciated going out into the world. After my brother and I had flown from the nest, my parents continued their endless search for new and exciting adventures. During a stay in Ethiopia, my father opened his eyes to the delicious leather offered by the capital Addis Ababa. Like any other explorer, he came home and passed on the information - lucky me.

Externally, the Ethiopian leather industry has gone silent with the doors - but in fact, Ethiopia possesses leather that competes with the highest quality worldwide.

Although leather is not new to Ethiopia, the country has not managed to achieve its full potential. For the same reason, you may not have heard of Ethiopian leather until now.

About

The progress in the country is great, but they are still struggling with a highly disorganized leather industry and not least infrastructure (or lack thereof). It complicates the procurement of leather, logistics is time consuming and not least increases export and import prices. Competitiveness is lost, and large international companies therefore often seek out more established countries such as China, Italy and Portugal.

Furthermore, the leather tanneries, factories and workshops move in an unstable environment, characterized by a lack of trained staff and large seasonal fluctuations. As leather in Ethiopia is exclusively a residual product, the quantities of leather increase during holidays and vacations, giving the tanneries an uncontrollably large profit that pushes prices to the bottom. On the contrary, outside the high seasons there is a great shortage of leather, which causes problems in obtaining the leather and results in sharp price increases.

Therefore, working with Ethiopia - yes - requires a lot of work, and not least a lot of patience.
Still, I could not stand this fine opportunity - and with the Ethiopian leather quality, I promise that the collections from Ethiopia are always worth a wait!

MicMic med kvinder fra den Etiopiske stamme Oromia
Læder fra Etiopisk garveri
MicMic logo i læder

Development in Ethiopia

 

In recent years, however, the Ethiopian government has drawn up ambitious growth and transformation plans to secure more foreign investment and cooperation - mainly with a focus on exports.

While the idea of increased growth, better finances and more jobs is healthy, it can also be at the expense of local conditions. Efforts to promote investment and win competition for global capital may put pressure on wage levels.

Minimum wage

In many countries, a minimum wage has been set across sectors. The idea of these is to protect employees from wage levels that are not sufficient to bear the individual's cost of living and thus to maintain an acceptable standard of living. Therefore, a minimum wage contributes to overcoming poverty, and is an important element in development and welfare - and especially important in poor countries that do not have a welfare system that supports.

Ethiopia does not have a national minimum wage. However, a minimum wage has been set for public sector employees; here is the lowest level at 420 Birr - about 60 Danish kroner a month!
Despite the fact that the salary can not cover the basic expenses for e.g. rent, food and transport, many companies in Ethiopia's private sector also use the level as a benchmark for their minimum wages. This can be seen i.a. in industrial parks where clothes and leather goods are produced for export.

 

Kvinder arbejder på tasker

MicMics partner

With MicMic, I can not change the entire Ethiopian industry, but I can make demands on the facilities I work with.
At my Ethiopian partner, mainly unskilled women are employed, which is the group of employees who most often end up in poorly paid jobs. At my partner, all employees receive above-average wages in the industry, enabling them to live a decent life.
The salary can cover the necessary fixed expenses and in addition provides space for e.g. health insurance, education and a small savings.

Fair conditions as offered here will in the long run reduce poverty, child labor, exploitation, crime, and not least ensure better health and life for employees and their families. Finally, it will contribute to the health of the population, to economic growth in Ethiopia and contribute to the poorest part of the population also receiving a share in the country's growth.

Attached to the workshop is a small café and shop selling crafts made by local designers who do not have the resources to open a shop themselves or market their products. At the same time, these designers have the opportunity to use the café as a workplace or meeting room. I think that is really nice and a good help for local entrepreneurs.
In addition, 1% of the in-store sales go to Zewdity Meshesha Charity. This is an organization that helps children living in extreme poverty.

Lædertasker bliver syet

The more we can grow this workshop together, the more fair jobs can be created in Ethiopia.
Boro bags, Elba bags as well Kandy bags is sewn here.

The largest facility

When looking at square footage and options, this facility is the largest I have worked with in Ethiopia.
So far, my Ella was sewn at one of my very small partners. Here there was one owner and four seamstresses employed. But we had a hard time getting delivery times, hardware and more to stick together. That is why I also visited this new facility when I was in Ethiopia at the end of 2019.
I was shown around, saw their tanneries and talked to them about future opportunities and plans - and I think it was promising. They had, for example, been given a brand new treatment plant, which all the wastewater must go through before it is sent on and eventually discharged. It's really good for the environment.

 

Therefore, they were allowed, on a trial basis, to sew some of the Ella bags. If they can accommodate the task, we must together draw up some guidelines for future collaboration.
At the top of the to-do list is improving the opportunities to use eco-friendly leather, raising their lowest wages as well as evaluating on how we can make the workplace even better for employees.

 

I have made an active choice to work in Ethiopia to improve the current conditions.
In India, for example, I work together. with already established and certified factories - but no one is in Ethiopia. I want to help change that. I want to be the one who sets the requirements and supports the good initiatives and certifications.
I also know that I am still a small fish and that there is a really long way to go - but if no international customers make demands, it will never get better. It also requires that both partners have the same vision as well as great trust in each other. Clearly, the incentive to invest money and time in developing eco-friendly leather is greater if there is a customer ready to buy it.

 

I will of course update you on the collaboration if I choose to proceed with this.

Kvinde syer i læder