MADE IN AFRICA SOCIAL PROJECT

MADE IN AFRICA SOCIAL PROJECT

March 2007. Hats crocheted following a local Cameroonian tradition inspired Ilaria Venturini Fendi in the development of a Carmina Campus start-up project in Africa.

With other repurposed materials Italian artisans turned these hats into mini bags. Later, one-of-a-kind machine embroideries of iconic African images and messages addressed to the Western world by the women involved  in the project were featured in the Message line.

In spite of the great success of these collections, logistics were difficult to control and in order to continue working in Africa, at the end of 2009 a partnership was established with the UN-WTO agency International Trade Centre (ITC).

The project was then moved to Kenya, in a  working hub set up in Nairobi by the ITC. Carmina Campus was involved in creativity, design and commercialisation of this special made in Africa line, while the ITC was responsible for production and implementation of cooperation activities.

About 90/100 people, mostly women, have been focusing over time on the making of Carmina Campus products that included a line entirely made in Africa and also machine embroideries and decors for collections made in Italy, like the Dragon and Message lines.

The partnership originated from the philosophy "Not charity, just work", bringing fair labour working conditions and production know-how to the community. It was intended to promote development through the creation of job opportunities encouraging the workers to become future independent micro-entrepreneurs.

According to the agency's social impact reports, this capacity building project focused on women empowerment has significantly improved their living standards as well as their status within the community, also because all  family members were able to enjoy  health care and education provided by the agency.


The collaboration with the ITC was enriched by other partnerships like the capsule collection developed in co-branding with 10 Corso Como Milan. Bags made with leftover logo fabrics were presented in a special event at the store.

At Rio+20 Carmina Campus was a case study in the Corporate Sustainability Forum organised by the ITC on June 17, 2011. Ilaria Venturini Fendi spoke about her experience as entrepreneur successfully integrating fashion business strategies with the work of marginalised communities and environmental safeguarding.


Ilaria Venturini Fendi was awarded several prizes for her engagement in working projects like the collaboration with the ITC and invited to many international forums as speaker, including the 2012 International Herald Tribune conference on luxury organised by Suzy Menkes and focused on Africa and the Mediterrean.