U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the African Mosaique Fashion Incubator Awards
African Mosaique, Legetafu
November 30, 2017
(As prepared for delivery)
Good evening! What a wonderful night!
Thank you, Anna and African Mosaique, for letting me be a part of this fantastic event.
And congratulations on the inauguration of this impressive design center and manufacturing hub.
Your commitment to building up Ethiopia’s fashion industry and to supporting the next generation of Ethiopian designers is inspiring.
It’s incredible to see the level of creativity and accomplishment on display tonight.
I’m proud to have the United States Embassy associated with such a positive initiative, and with such a dynamic and fun evening.
This event is an amazing showcase for the tremendous potential not only of Ethiopian fashion, but of Ethiopia more generally, and it’s a great example of how Ethiopians and others can work together to unlock that potential.
An eye for fashion is a gift, and clearly we have some very gifted and creative designers here tonight.
But developing that gift into the amazing creations we’ve just seen takes more than creativity.
It takes dedication and hard work, and every designer here deserves our congratulations, respect, and admiration for the creativity, skill, and hard work that has brought them to this point.
But for the world to truly benefit from the magic of these designers, they will need to turn their gift for fashion into successful business enterprises.
Doing this will require not only talent, and dedication, and hard work, but also some practical real-world business skills.
The United States can’t help much with the talent, or determination, or courage, but we can help a bit with the business know-how.
In cooperation with African Mosaique, our embassy helped provide coaching to some amazing designers on how to develop a business plan, so that they can take their talents and turn them into a source of income for themselves, and a source of employment and economic growth for Ethiopia.
Participants in this project learned to think about brand identity, marketing, production, sales, distribution, cash-flow, and financing.
None of that sounds particularly glamorous, but this kind of knowledge can make the difference between someone with a good eye for fashion and a successful designer.
Eight promising Ethiopian fashion designers were selected for this opportunity, and all of them have demonstrated outstanding work.
But tonight, I have the honor of announcing the two winners, who have been selected based on the strength of their business models.
These two designers will receive brand new sewing machines, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy, as a gesture of our confidence in their very bright futures in the fashion industry.
The winners will also have the opportunity to be mentored by established Ethiopian fashion entrepreneurs Sammy Mohammed and Sara Abera!
And now without further delay, I am pleased to announce that the winners are: Yonael Marga and Netsanet Addis!