1 Introduction 1
Carme Moreno-Gavara and Ana Isabel Jiménez-Zarco
2 Fashion Sector Outsourcing to African Countries:
Taking Advantage of Low-Cost Labor? 5
3 Sustainability in Global Value-Chain Management:
The Source of Competitive Advantage in the Fashion Sector 37
Ana Isabel Jiménez-Zarco, Carme Moreno-Gavara and Jean Claude Stone Njomkap
4 The Fashion Industry in Africa: A Global Vision of the Sector 77
Miriam Aziz, Charbel Salloum and Laurice Alexandre-Leclair
5 Female Entrepreneurship in the African Fashion Industry:
A Review of Its Determinants and Characteristics 99
Hashim Sabo Bello
6 Challenges and Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs 115
Carme Moreno-Gavara, Ana Isabel Jiménez-Zarco and Sheriff A. O. Alabi
7 Case Studies from Africa 147
Bamidele Wale-Oshinowo, Sorbarikor Lebura,
Nejla Yacoub and Laurice Alexandre-Leclair
8 Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations 183
Carme Moreno-Gavara and Ana Isabel Jiménez-Zarco
List of Figures
Fig. 1 EU: Fashion industry employment by country
(Source EURATEX ) 19
Fig. 2 Working-age population (Source Africa Competitiveness
Report  Figure 1 [modified]) 30
Fig. 1 Internet penetration in African countries, 2018
(% population) (Source Internet World Stats 2018) 100
List of Tables
Table 1 Distribution of total value in the fashion sector 7
Table 2 Companies and jobs in the EU 18
Table 3 Global competitiveness index: Africa vs. Europe and USA 31
Table 1 United States textile and clothing imports, 2016 81
Table 1 Women’s tertiary educational background 166
Table 2 Other determinants of entrepreneurial decision 168
Table 3 Gaps for women’s entrepreneurship in Tunisia’s textile industry 171
Carme Moreno-Gavara and Ana Isabel Jiménez-Zarco
The present work addresses three issues in the future development of the African continent: sustainability, women’s entrepreneurship and the fashion industry. If, taken separately, the management of these three elements is a strategic issue, treated together they create a high impact on Africa at economic, social and environmental levels.
Since the year 2000, the African continent has demonstrated strong economic growth. In particular, some poorer countries have shown growth rates much higher than those of developed countries, in some cases exceeding 6% annually. The pattern of development followed, however, is not efficient enough to guarantee progress or economic and social stability in the medium and long term. Africa, based on the exploitation of its raw materials and the development of labor-intensive activities—and not on knowledge—has become a vital source of resources to be exploited by developed countries. In the short term, this model guarantees economic growth, but in the long term it is neither sustainable nor inclusive.
As well as the risk of depletion of raw materials, African countries face high rates of youth unemployment, especially among women. According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the participation of women in the labor market is 16.6 points lower than that of men. Women mainly have low qualifications, are poorly paid and occupy precarious positions in sectors such as manufacturing. Although supranational organizations, such as the UN and the World Bank, have highlighted the need for a change in the development model, it is the social agents of the affected countries—governments, companies and society in general—who need to undertake structural change such that the model of development is sustainable in all dimensions.
The strong attraction of African fashion for international markets has led to this sector showing high potential for development in some countries. Its importance may even be such that the fashion industry may be regarded as a potential driver of growth. It is true that critical investments by international companies in the sector have favored the appearance of a local industry that directly or indirectly depends on them. And although the activities developed are of low added value, for some local communities it has been the turning point in their fight against poverty and marginalization.
For the future, these countries have to consolidate a local fashion industry capable of generating a “drag” effect on other economic sectors. The strategic model of this industry needs rethinking, with investment in the creation of products with high added value. The use of sustainable raw materials, the development of energy-efficient and non-polluting production processes, and improved working conditions will all contribute.
Women represent about 80% of the total workforce employed by the fashion industry. However, their precarious situation is one of the main obstacles to growth. In Africa, gender inequality goes far beyond just lower wages and difficulty obtaining positions of responsibility or resources such as funding or training. In some countries, to be a woman means to be a second-class citizen with no rights (of either recognition or consideration), and living in extreme poverty. In many families, these women are the only source of income and are solely responsible for households of children.
Training in competences for life and the empowerment of women through female entrepreneurship are emerging as solutions to this situation.
In particular, the creation of a small fashion business is a route taken today by many women that enables them to escape the complex personal, family and social situations in which they find themselves. Many examples of African female entrepreneurship can be found that are contributing to the creation of a nascent local fashion textile industry. The growth of female entrepreneurship in some African countries is encouraging the development of growing business networks where women occupy a central place.
The environment will be a determining factor in the entrepreneurial process, as it influences the model of entrepreneurship for women. Threats and opportunities will be determined by factors such as legal regulations, access to finance and the existence of an industrial fabric. Even the natural resources and cultural traditions of the territory will contribute to determine the future of the project. This is particularly relevant for sustainable fashion where the area’s natural resources, as well as the know-how gleaned from cultural traditions, could be the differential element of the product offer. Differentiation is critical for the success of a product. In the field of fashion, the use of natural fabrics and original designs is one of the latest trends. Whether it is creating products for big brands or selling products under their own brand, directly through conventional and unconventional commercial channels, the development of a sustainable-fashion industrial fabric offers significant opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
The in-depth analysis of this topic is organized in this work as follows. Chapter 2 by Renato Botti, “Fashion sector Outsourcing to Some African Countries: Taking Advantage of Low-Cost Labor?”, analyzes how globalization has affected the fashion industry over time. The ecosystem of fashion, the different agents it contains and the relationships between them are studied in depth. The chapter ends by exploring the main challenges facing the sector.
Chapter 3, “Sustainability in Global Value-Chain Management: The Source of Competitive Advantage in the Fashion Sector”, is by Ana Isabel Jiménez-Zarco, Carme Moreno-Gavara and Jean Claude Stone Njomkap. The chapter looks at the concept of value, and how consumers perceive sustainability as increasing the value of fashion products. It then examines how companies create value along the value chain, and what type of structures they develop to achieve it. Finally, the fundamental role that local suppliers from African countries can play in this value creation through sustainable raw materials and processes is described.
Chapter 4 is by Miriam Aziz, Charbel Salloum and Laurice Alexandre- Leclair and is entitled “The Fashion Industry in Africa: A Global Vision of the Sector”. This chapter provides an overview of Africa’s fashion industry, examining the differences between the regions of North and South Africa. It reviews challenges and opportunities for the fashion industry, and the significance of level of development, type of product, and ability to achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability.
In Chapter 5, “Female Entrepreneurship in the African Fashion Industry: A Review of its Determinants and Characteristics”, Hashim Sabo Bello reviews the role of women, especially young women, in entrepreneurship in the fashion sector, and defines some of the features that characterize them on a personal level.
Chapter 6, “Challenges and Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs”, is by Ana Isabel Jiménez-Zarco, Carme Moreno-Gavara, and Sheriff A. O. Alabi. It shows how women entrepreneurs in Africa generate significant benefits for their countries economically, socially and environmentally. They continue, however, to face significant cultural, social and legal barriers to the entrepreneurial process. The support of governments, institutions, and local and international companies will be vital to the development of entrepreneurial initiatives among women in the sustainable fashion sector and above all, to the consolidation over time of empowering business activities that provide equality for women.
In Chapter 7, “Case studies from Africa”, Bamidele Wale-Oshinowo, Sorbarikor Lebura, Nejla Yacoub and Laurice Alexandre-Leclair present case studies from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia where, in recent years, women entrepreneurs have been consolidating a strong position in the sustainable fashion industry.
Finally, Chapter 8 by Carme Moreno-Gavara and Ana Isabel Jiménez- Zarco brings together the main conclusions of this volume. In general terms, despite the existing difficulties, female entrepreneurship offers significant opportunities, not only for this group but also, at an economic and social level, for the whole territory. The use of the territory’s natural resources increases the attractiveness of a developing industrial network led by women. Now it only remains for local and international organizations to understand the situation, and put in place the measures required for its further development.