Rebuilding International Trade during the Covid-19 Crisis

How an e-commerce start-up helps to export t-shirts and re-usable face masks from Ethiopia.

The Covid-19 crisis disrupted international trade and left many producers of clothing without buyers. In Ethiopia, the drops in local and global demand put high pressure on enterprises of any size in the sector as several orders from China, the United States and Europe were cancelled on short notice. An Ethiopian textile company now found a new sales avenue for its re-usable face masks and t-shirts through

When lockdowns froze business operations around the world, companies based in Hawassa Industrial Park, Ethiopia, were hit hard. The eco-park is operated as a green industrial zone for apparel and textile that recycles about 90% of its water usage and is powered by renewable energy. Many of the companies in the park were forced to reduce their production and operational costs, including labour costs, when orders from China, the US and Europe dropped immensely due to the pandemic.

In order to support local businesses in the companies in the eco-park during the crisis, project managers at “Invest for Jobs” operated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) collected demands of firms for buyers and uploaded them on the matchmaking platform “We’re using to tell companies across the world about the business opportunities in Ethiopia”, reports Valeska Grob who works for GIZ´s project “Invest for Jobs”.

The mentioned business opportunity from Ethiopia on

One of the published business opportunities refers to the textile company Nasa Garment, which was looking to sell re-usable face masks and t-shirts. Nasa Garment is the only company that was founded by local Ethiopian investors in the Hawassa Industrial Park and has become the first Ethiopian company to export its products to Canada. Though it only took up operations in 2019, the company already employs a workforce of 480 people, 98% of which are women.

“Within two days of publication of the business opportunity, we received the first match. An e-commerce company was interested in selling the products via their online platform Curatez”, states Eman Amanuel from GIZ. “We have linked the two companies and only ten days after the business opportunity had been published on, Nasa Garment had registered their products on Curatez.” “Now we are waiting for response from customers”, confirms Raghav Pattar, CEO at Nasa Garment.

Nasa Garment’s Products on Curatez’ e-commerce platform. Copyright: Curatez, 2020

Curatez founder Mohamed Orikat is pleased about the match with Nasa Garment: “In response to the current situation, we collaborated to post the face masks manufactured by Nasa Garment on our platform Medellas which features COVID-19-related products. Buyers can now contact Nasa Garment directly via our e-commerce website.”

Nasa Garment’s Products on Curatez’ e-commerce platform Medellas, Copyright: Curatez, 2020

As both mentioned companies continue to work closely together, Valeska Grob from GIZ is thinking of the next connections to be made:

“We’re also looking for buyers and distributors of textile and leather goods from Ethiopian fashion designers and companies.We saw that the matching process via is quick and efficient. We hope that more companies will get in touch through and help us to get international trade going again.”

Invest for Jobs is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) KfW Development Bank (KfW) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is helping to preserve jobs and secure investments in multiple African countries.

Nasa Garment is an Ethiopian textile start-up operating from Hawassa Industrial Park that produces t-shirts and face masks.

Curatez is a Dubai based e-commerce start-up that provides a marketplace to quickly and easily buy unused garments and textiles raw material.

Medellas is a Dubai based marketplace for medical and hygiene related products.

Copyright Hero Image: frank mckenna on Unsplash, 2020

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