STAND Up!: Green Fashion turns waste of fabric from textile factories into high quality products in Egypt
When going for shopping, most people probably think about certain numbers: How much does this shirt cost? Which discount will I get in today’s sale? How many pairs of socks do I need to buy to get a deal? However, there are probably some numbers not that easy to deal with but very important to understand though. One of them could be the quantity of litres of water needed to produce a T-shirt, which is about 2.700, the same amount that an average person drinks over the course of 900 days. Another meaningful data: more than 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced worldwide and that, from which 75% end up in landfills or incinerated.
This sustainable idea inspired the core concept and development of Green Fashion, a Cairo-based fashion brand and social enterprise that promotes a sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle. This early-stage start-up designs and produces environmentally and socially responsible bags, clothes and products that support local communities in Egypt.
“I truly believe in the seriousness of the climatic change issue as well as the importance of preserving the environment as it represents a matter of life or death, not a luxury” says Hadeer Shalaby, CEO & Co-founder of Green Fashion. Graduated in Communication Engineering at Kelley School of Business, she has around 8 years of experience in business administration, with strong programming skills and studies in business management and entrepreneurship.
Green Fashion aims at developing techniques to upcycle and make use of second-hand clothes to produce new pieces designed to hold higher value than the original items. By achieving this, they turn waste of fabrics from textile factories into high quality products, integrating the production process with a strong commitment on social inclusion and the involvement of disadvantaged women.
“There are more than 35% of the Egyptian families who are endorsed by a woman” tells Hadeer. “We are specifically talking about rural women who suffer from marginalization, domestic violence, poor education and lack of job opportunities. I have always wanted to help women in the villages and improve their standard of living, because I grew up there and know how they suffer”, she says.
Green Fashion employs these women who are single mothers, refugees and breadwinners for their own family, supporting them and their children both educationally and economically. It also provides their families with medical and mental health visits when needed, ensuring a good income and a better lifestyle. In addition, the sustainable start-up is working on an equally demanding challenge by developing biodegradable fibers and tints for clothes to be sold to factories.
“We succeeded in producing a prototype of biodegradable fibers and we consider this is the most important achievement, so we seek to develop and patent it”, claims Hadeer. Nevertheless, obtaining credits and patents involve a strong commitment to research and budget allocation, especially for the R&D. “It’s a challenge but it will allow us to gain trust and credibility for the market and the relationship with companies”, she recognises.
As one of the 4 circular start-ups selected in Egypt by the Sekem Development Foundation, Green Fashion is undertaking the incubation path provided by STAND Up!, benefiting from a wide range of technical and business services as well as mentoring and financial support. “Within the project's training activities we have been working on developing our venture to make it more circular and suitable for the market” says the female entrepreneur.
STAND Up! is an EU-funded project under the ENI CBC Med Programme, intended to promote eco-innovative business projects in the textile, clothing and fashion sectors, supporting young entrepreneurs based in the 5 Mediterranean countries participating in the project: Spain, Italy, Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Green Fashion, the WeMed Award winner in the Early-Stage category
On Wednesday 20 October 2021, the WeMed Award winners were publicly announced through an online Award Ceremony, as a closing event for SwitchMed Connect 2021.
The goal of this first edition of the WeMed Award was to recognize the outstanding achievements of sustainable businesses and public authorities supporting them. The 7 finalists were invited to share their remarkable stories, and finally the 3 winners and 2 honorary mentions were announced.
The winner of the Early Stage category, under 3 years old, is Green Fashion, from Egypt, with a reward of 10,000 €. The WeMed Award is developed by Regional Activity Center for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC) as part of the Switchers Support Programme.