Kalkidan’s background and understanding of the economic situation in Africa provided a moving story for the brand, with her Kickstart fundraising campaign surpassing its £10,000 objective, and backers collectively pledging an astonishing £12,567. And so Sancho’s Dress was born, enabling the creation of hand-woven scarves in rural Ethiopia. The scarves are created using traditional wooden looms, made from locally grown bamboo and eucalyptus tree. The looms are pedal-powered, and therefore not reliant on electricity or complex infrastructure. This ensures the creation of a scarf that is carbon-neutral, sustainable and – equally important – stylish for the global market.
Sancho’s Dress advocates trade over aid – which is also a sentiment shared by all of the backers who pledged and supported Legesse’s ‘Scarves & Sustainability’ project. Encouraging trade in developing countries paves the way to improve livelihoods and according to the European Commission, reduces ‘poverty by generating growth through increased commercial opportunities and investment.’
Through setting up a business like this, individuals can become self-reliant, bringing a stable income into their homes and their communities. Especially important to Sancho’s Dress is the support of women in Ethiopia, who are often limited in their ability to work, due to familial pressures and lesser education.
The notion of creating opportunities for local communities also promotes strengthening ties by bringing people together in ‘peaceful and mutually beneficial exchanges,’ which contributes to peace and stability within the country.
As well as advocating ethical living and shopping, the introduction of such high-quality, cultural items into a wider market breaks down misconceptions about their origins. Developing countries will be seen in a different, truer light. By coming together and focusing on the advantages of trading, we can establish safe and comfortable working environments, bringing invaluable change to the lives of many – all while receiving items authentic in its craft and laboured with love.