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social impact
Our continued collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative has formed the heart of our commitment to social impact through the vehicle of design. Lukhanyo Mdingi’s long-term partnership with social enterprise CABES-GIE, in Burkina Faso, has allowed us to intimately understand the profound potential of social and ecological consciousness, and we are pleased to share with you some of the critical points drawn from an EFI impact assessment from 2022.

Choosing Burkina Faso as the production hub reflects our focus on a sustainable future, rooted in our support for communities for whom craftsmanship practices are culturally intrinsic. With production taking place from April to May 2022, the project efficiently created 204,960 metres of fabric. The collaboration focused on delivering high-quality fabric while also prioritising capacity building for local artisans; with this aspect being a key aspect of the essence involved in our label’s vision. The orders have included the creation of new weaving patterns and facilitating the artisans' learning process, while technicians conducted thorough inductions for six men and ensured a comprehensive understanding of the instructions - in turn, fostering skills development for each of the artisans.

Remarkably, despite Burkina Faso grappling with the worst security situation in its history due to terrorist attacks and threats; the fabric production proceeded without significant challenges. This resilience underscores the commitment of the collaborative efforts to navigate challenges and prioritise ethical practices in the face of adversity. Past orders have comprised over 204.96 metres of Faso Danfani and has featured two custom patterns, exclusive to Lukhanyo Mdingi. Faso Danfani, Burkina Faso's National fabric, is a source of pride for the Burkinabé people, and holds a protected status since 2019 - so, it remains an incredible honour for us to use the label as a means to showcase and celebrate this rich cultural heritage, while also contributing to sustaining the traditional art form and craftsmanship.

Aligned with international labour standards, this partnership adhered to the Ethical Fashion Initiative’s Code of Conduct, grounded in the UN declaration of human rights and the fundamental labour conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO). This commitment encompasses principles such as freedom of association, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the effective abolition of child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation. In addition, this process is an embodiment of our commitment to several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with each of these goals ultimately shaping our partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative and CABES-GIE.

We’ve embraced the following goals as our guiding compass;
SDG 1 - No Poverty, served as a guiding principle, influencing decisions throughout the production process to ensure fair wages and opportunities for all involved.
SDG 5 - Gender Equality informed the project by promoting inclusivity and empowerment, with a specific focus on supporting women artisans within the production network.
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth was integral, as the brand aimed to create sustainable economic opportunities and foster decent working conditions.
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequality, the project actively sought to minimise disparities, promoting social, economic, and gender inclusivity.
SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production guided material choices and waste management practices, reflecting a dedication to sustainable and ethical fashion.
SDG 13 - Climate Action, incorporating eco-friendly practices to mitigate environmental impact and contribute to the global effort against climate change.

Furthermore, the production process adhered to ecologically-conscious practices, with an impressive 64.95% of the energy used being renewable. This commitment to sustainability deepens the ethical foundation of our collaboration with CABES-GIE, showcasing the fusion of traditional craftsmanship, resilience in the face of challenges, and a forward-looking approach to environmental responsibility as an achievable process.

The project responsibly disposed of 100% of the chemicals employed, while the conscientious choice was made to utilise fertilisers with 0% percentages of nitrogen and phosphorus, showcasing a mindful approach to resource management. The raw materials further reinforce this commitment, with GOTS certified organic cotton fibres and GOTS certified reactive dye stuff ensuring a sustainable and ethical supply chain. Regarding the use of water, no material was repurposed, signifying a reliance on 100% virgin material. With this, each facet of production was meticulously considered for its impact on the planet and its people. Despite the thoroughness of our production process, this project remained vigilant in minimising waste generation; with a mere 2.75% of waste produced. Notably, 100% of the waste generated was appropriately disposed of.

The wage data associated with this partnership conveys the clear potential of ethical practice within employment and the preservation of craftsmanship. Noteworthy, is the 70.45% income difference for dyers and a 101.36% difference for weavers when compared to the national average income; illustrating our commitment to fair compensation for all our collaborators, with the ‘living wage’ being the cornerstone of the Ethical Fashion Iniative’s social impact vision.

This partnership is entrusted to CABES (Commerce, Artisanat pour le Bien-Être Social), a social enterprise in partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative across Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Benin. Established in 2014, CABES operates as a network of 91 productive entities involving over 2000 artisans, predominantly women, specialising in the transformation of GOTS certified organic cotton into the cherished Burkinabè textile, Faso Dan Fani. This social enterprise operates within the legal framework of Burkina Faso, ensuring compliance with the country's laws and regulations. The collaboration with CABES serves as a powerful example of our commitment to producing ethically while contributing positively to the communities involved in our collaborative processes.