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Ethiopia: US Market Promising for Ethiopian Made Hand Woven Clothing

Published date:
Sunday, 29 October 2006

Hand woven materials made by K Disign - a local midsize industry designing and producing traditional hand loomed clothing - have attracted a number of US buyers while debuting at the State's giant apparels trade show held in New York last month, Proprietor Rahel Zewde told The Daily Monitor.

According to Rahel, K Design is on its way to cut some deal with potential US buyers, where eight of them have already ordered the company for sample products.

"With my first experience participating at a US trade show, I was able to witness the US market is promising for Ethiopian handmade products, where over 50 US buyers have visited our booth and established contacts within the three-day long exhibition," the designer said.

According to Rahel, the major elements that made K Design's products attractive to the US buyers are the fact that the showcased products are handmade, the products' color combination and their designs.

Including K Design, two Ethiopian handicraft industries and seven garment producing companies have displayed their products at the New York trade show, with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.

VEGA Ethiopia, a USAID funded Ethiopia National AGOA Program which assists local enterprises in tapping into the US market, and Enterprise Ethiopia, have supported and facilitated the participation of the stated companies at the trade show, where the World Bank covered 75 per cent of the companies' participation fees channeled through Enterprise Ethiopia.

According to VEGA Ethiopia Chief of Party Addis Alemayehou and partner Teklu from the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, almost all the nine companies had the opportunity to meet potential US buyers, while K Design, WOW International, Nova Star, and Ras Dashen Garment companies were some of the most actively visited and successful Ethiopian companies that seemed to attract more buyers.

Some five Ethiopian garment companies that participated at a similar US trade show held in Las Vegas a year ago (with a full support of the USAID) were reportedly able to land at several millions of US dollars worth contracts.

The last month's US trade show, at which the nine Ethiopian companies(excluding Sheik Al Almoud's Kebire Enterprise) had the opportunity to take part in for the first time, is expected to turn out even more successful than the Las Vegas show for the Ethiopian companies, according to the participants' facilitators.

K Disign, which expects potential firm orders from the US buyers, is a family-owned business established over 50 years ago by late Kidist Haile, the mother of inheritor and designer Rahel Zewde.

K Design products are a blend of traditional and modern hand woven clothing including dresses, scarves, cushion covers, and other accessories.

There are some 50 weavers working at the midsize industry, which distributes its products via gift and other retail shops to the local market. The company has been exporting its products to Tunisia, according to the designer.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Ethiopia’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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