Impact of our funds’ portfolio: How an African clothing manufacturer is creating decent work for women

This is part of a series of case studies highlighting the impact of the businesses we’re invested in through our portfolio of fund commitments in Africa and South Asia.

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What’s the challenge?

The textile industry has the potential to generate jobs in Ghana and increase economic development in the country, fostering trade routes and pan-African supply chains.

The context of the global manufacturing market is increasing that opportunity. The rising cost of manufacturing in China has left buyers searching for long-term reliable suppliers elsewhere.  While other Asian countries have absorbed some of the volume of business leaving China, they cannot meet the need entirely.

However, African manufacturers face several hurdles to establish themselves as alternatives, such as unskilled labour, insufficient local infrastructure, and lack of global trading networks.

At the same time, there is a demand for decent work for women in Ghana. Just 59 per cent of women in Ghana reported being in paid work, compared to 75 per cent of men.

In the first few weeks of the pandemic, women’s employment fell by 23 percentage points in the country compared to just 13 points for men. Although women’s employment is thought to have recovered to near pre-pandemic levels, the crisis has exposed the fragility of opportunities for women in the market.

59%

The percentage of women in paid work in Ghana

How is the business tackling that challenge?

Recognising the need and opportunity for a reliable supplier in Africa, Do The Right Thing Apparel (DTRT) launched in Ghana in 2014 and is now the largest clothing manufacturer in West Africa.

Focused on large scale job creation and positive social change, DTRT employs 2,500 people and has trained 3,000 people in total.

Founded on a commitment to ‘do the right thing’, the company prioritises the needs of its workers, aiming to establish better labour standards than those found in the rest of the industry. It provides jobs which ensure worker safety and a decent wage, as well as providing access to healthcare and training.

Currently over 60 per cent of the company’s workface are women, many of whom were unemployed before joining.

The salaries and benefits offered by DTRT mean women can provide for themselves and their children, while being offered professional development and management training during their time at the company. The company’s management training programme is developing the first generation of Ghanaian clothing factory managers.

DTRT now aims to become a leading sports clothing manufacturer, while maintaining and promoting a higher standard for sustainability and concern for environmental impact.

Overcoming the challenge of building supply chains, DTRT has an expansive global network across three continents. Currently the team supplies major US and EU-based brands with high volume items that have consistent international demand, including promotional wear and sportswear.

We are invested in Do The Right Thing Apparel through our commitment to Verod Capital Growth Fund III, an investment fund which provides growth capital and adds value to SMEs primarily in Nigeria and Ghana. We committed to the fund in 2019 and have been working closely with the manager to improve its existing environmental and social management system.

 

 

2,500

The number of people employed by DTRT

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