Women entrepreneurs in the textiles and garments industry upgrade business skills

28 February 2014
ITC News

Women entrepreneurs of developing countries working in the textiles and garments sector are now better equipped to create and position their products to meet buyers’ requirements and to compete in global markets, thanks to a training workshop organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

Nine women entrepreneurs selected by ITC from Ethiopia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Peru met buyers and designers, received mentoring from industry specialists and participated in a guided visit to retail outlets as part of a Buyer Mentor Group held from 5–6 December 2013 at the House of Commons in London. The women entrepreneurs were accompanied by representatives of trade support institutions from their countries.

The workshop, organized under the ITC-led Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors, comprised 12 training sessions on topics such as product development, buyers’ design requirements, market research, branding and its association to sales and marketing, and ethical values. The trainings were led by industry experts, members of academia and advocates of sustainable development in the textile and garment industries. Participants were also able to meet with potential buyers and receive feedback on their products.

The session on product development, for example, demonstrated how to expand product lines by using mood boards, which are used in the industry to display product range and brand identity to buyers. The entrepreneurs created their own mood boards, using images of traditional fashion items and displaying them in a way that would appeal to buyers around the world.

The entrepreneurs learned about intellectual property and copyright, as well as brand creation, to increase the profitability of their businesses. The entrepreneurs were also encouraged to retain the use of vibrant colours and patterns in their designs, in addition to the use of muted and neutral colours typically associated with consumer preferences in the European and United States markets.

A session on e-commerce marketing and promotion covered effective online sales techniques, from tips on photographing products and displaying them on the website, to strategies to attract customers using social media and blogs.

As a result of the trainings, the vendors made plans for new designs, products and colours; adjusted the prices for some of their products; discussed the creation of new fabrics and textiles by blending materials such as cashmere, silk and cotton; and discussed new business opportunities.

Established in September 2010, the Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors is a 10-year initiative that aims to increase the amount of corporate, government and institutional procurement secured by women vendors for the ultimate purpose of bringing economic benefit to women and their communities.

To date, more than 650 policymakers, international organizations, buyers, trade support institutions, women’s business associations and women business enterprises from 40 developing and least developed countries have participated in Global Platform activities. Participants have received training and market linkage opportunities through Buyer Mentor Groups and participation in the annual Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum.