Endelea is a fashion company founded in 2018 in Milan that bridges Europe and Africa through the creation of ethically made clothes and accessories.
Endelea’s collections are designed in Italy and produced in Tanzania by local tailors and artisans with traditional African fabrics, and then sold all over Europe through the e-commerce and the wholesale network.
Endelea is a Swahili word that means “keep going without giving up” and behind its name stands a motivated team of dreamers, who believe in the power of connections, creativity, and empowerment to help make the difference through their work. Our motto is “Dream Bold” and describes both our design, characterized by bright colors and vibrant patterns, as well as our ultimate dream, to generate a positive impact and lead a change in the fashion industry, both in Tanzania and internationally.
Our mission is to sustain students and young entrepreneurs in an environment like Tanzania, where the fashion industry has yet to emerge as a proper industry, and we invest 3% of Endelea’s gross annual revenue in local educational programmes for design students.
The happiness of our workers, collaborators, shareholders, and consumers stands as a common denominator of Endelea’s economy, and for this reason, in June 2020 we became a Benefit Corporation, and as such we aim at pursuing the UN Sustainable Goals, and in particular: good health and well being (goal number 3), goal number quality education (goal number 4), reduced inequalities (goal number 10), responsible consumption and production (goal number 12), decent work and economic growth (goal number 8).
With such characteristics as transparent and inclusive African production, a clear ethical mission, a premium brand identity, and a distinguished Italian design, Endelea stands out among its competitors in the European market, and is on its way to design its 7th collection.
The brand is growing in customers, sales, social media and communication: in 2021, the online revenues have grown by 60% over 2020, when they tripled compared to 2019, despite Covid-19 hitting the fashion industry in a particularly significant way. Today, the Average Order Value on the website is 142€, the Customer Acquisition Cost is 15€, and the average margin per product is 75%. There are 1.700 registered customers on the website endelea.it with a Returning Customer Rate of 16%. B2B sales are growing by 170% and represent 15% of the total revenues today, with an Average Order Value of 950€. In 2021, Endelea has revenues for 100.000€ and our business plan forecasts a constant growth over the year to come, in order for us to be fully profitable by 2023.
Although economic growth is what helps Endelea to continue to exist and grow for the years to come, profit is not our sole interest. Endelea’s ethical commitment to produce good and share good aims to lead the way for a new path in the fashion industry to create greater social impact. Our goal is to strive for progression and create the change that would stimulate others to follow a similar path. In particular, our focus takes into consideration both social responsibility and environmental sustainability, deeply interconnected in order to put people and the environment always first in everything we do.
Our first committment is to provide a work environment with zero discrimination and no gender pay gap to our teams, both in Italy and Tanzania, where we are 85% women, and where forced, underaged, illegal, or undeclared labor in any way is unaccepted. Endelea believes that everyone should have access to the same rights and opportunities, no matter their ethnicity, skin color, or nationality, and be able to work in a safe and secure work environment. For these reasons, our Tanzanian employees receive +40% of the average income in the country, health insurance for them and their children, and free meals and transport to work. We are already providing the local team with professional training on the job by Italian experts in fashion design and pattern making, but we are also going to give them the opportunity to access empowerment trainings on gender equality and human rights, led by local activists and psychoterapists.
Our ethical commitment to perpetuate good does not only stop to our own office, but also spreads to the broader community in Tanzania, collaborating with local models, photographers, and stylists to help new talents emerge, and cooperating with other projects in the country to support social change at all levels. Overall, in these 3 years Endelea impacted more than 50 professionals in the fashion field in Tanzania, keeping inclusivity, diversity and equality as our key values along the way. In 2021 a capsule collection in collaboration with the young Tanzanian artist Valerie Asiimwe Amani was also launched to support the activities of the Nafasi Art Space in Dar Es Saalam, while in December 2021 Endelea will participate in the Swahili Fashion Week – one of East Africa’s main fashion event – sponsoring a collection created by Rose Minja, one of our seamstresses.
Endelea is very attentive and respectful of everyone’s culture and we have no intention to intentionally or unintentionally make any type of cultural appropriation. For this reason, for the Fall Winter 2021-2022 collection we collaborated with MIPI (Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative), an organization that protects Maasai culture all over the world. Together with MIPI, we are committed to working in a transparent way and respecting the Maasai culture, as well as contributing a percentage of the revenues from the collection to the association’s activities with the Maasai community.
We believe that the key to change is knowledge and work: this is why we reinvest part of our revenues in on-site training activities and in sponsoring collaborations between Italian and Tanzanian universities. In 2021, Endelea signed a 5-year contract with the University of Dar es Salaam for the organization of workshops with Italian university professors for the students of the Creative Arts class, to share new skills and techniques to help them build their future careers. We are already running a 25-hour pilot class in Fashion Design involving 20 students that will be officially in place in 2022 for more than 250 students.
In 2020, Endelea has also collaborated with Naledi Dream Center Fashion School, offering 8 scholarships, 4 internships, and 8 free workshops with professionals from Italy, both in-person and remote.
As part of Endelea’s sustainability goals, we are firmly committed to provide happiness to this generation and the ones to come, and for this reason we aim to continuously introduce more eco-responsible choices in our production system. For Spring Summer 2021, we launched a capsule collection featuring “kikoi”, a traditional Tanzanian fabric made from locally grown cotton, in collaboration with a small enterprise led by women in Dar Es Salaam. This represented Endelea’s first step towards ensuring greater control of the supply chain, which we wish to continue to pursue in the next years, identifying certified African producers to work with.
For both the Fall Winter 2020 and 2021 collections, Endelea launched quilted wax, using padding obtained from recycled PET bottles, promoting circular economy and diminishing the total environmental impact of the products on our planet. Furthermore, to reduce fabric waste and unnecessary use of plastic, Endelea’s clothes and accessories are delivered inside garment pouches made with the upcycled fabrics from our collections. For our tags, we only choose FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) recycled paper, while mailing envelopes are made of compostable material.
Endelea represents an ethical alternative in today’s fashion world. Our commitment for the future is to continue to grow, along with the people in our teams and the community of people who support the brand to become an international, sustainable and multicultural ecosystem for fashion. We wish to continue to set as an example for emerging entrepreneurs and companies to choose everyone’s benefit and happiness: we believe that a small yet prosperous business can benefit everyone, contributing to drive change towards more equitable and responsible societies.