Social business connects Australian consumers to female artisans in developing countries
A consciousness for ethical practice has spread throughout the fashion industry. People want to live more sustainably and are interested in positively impacting the lives of those who make their clothes and accessories.
According to Euro Monitor International, 46% of Australians try to impact the environment through their everyday actions positively. While making purchasing decisions, the Australian ethical consumer focuses on four elements: Eco-production, Animal welfare, People and Values, and Circular Economy.
With this in mind, entrepreneurs Fabi Alvarez and Vlad da Cunha decided to found Akili, a social business offering ethical and sustainable products to conscious consumers in Australia. Akili – a Swahili noun meaning intelligence, wit, and resourcefulness – defines the company’s ethos, which centres around partnering with female social entrepreneurs in developing communities to produce handmade products with high positive social impact and low environmental cost.
In developing countries such as Tanzania, in Africa, women don’t have access to the formal labour market. So, quite often, entrepreneurship is their only way out of poverty.
“While working in Tanzania, I’ve met incredibly talented and resilient female entrepreneurs. Upon returning to Brisbane, I’ve noticed that handcrafted products made with natural materials in developing communities are bound to succeed in Australia. Where consumers have the desire to be more sustainable and to have a positive social impact with every purchase they make,” said Fabi Alvarez Head of Marketing and Co-founder.
Akili brings to Australia shoes, bags, jewellery, homeware, and accessories handmade with natural or recycled materials by female artisans in Brazil, Ecuador, and Tanzania.
The products represent diverse local cultures, targeting worldly and curious conscious consumers.
A good example is the bags made in rural Tanzania with handwoven Milulu Grass. The traditional weaving technique is tight; it has been traditionally used to produce drinking glasses for the local tribes for centuries. Products made with the grass are natural, compostable, and provide a reliable source of income to rural female artisans in a part of the world stricken by poverty. The leather handles used on these bags is tanned by the local Maasai tribes utilising a process that is 100% natural.
From Brazil, Akili brings beautiful pieces of jewellery made with upcycled plastic bottles and aluminium cans and handmade shoes and bags made with recycled materials. From Ecuador, genuine Panama hats, scarves, and beaded jewellery made by indigenous communities.
The small social business also brings to Australia unique pieces of Maasai Jewellery made with glass beads, recycled plastic boning, and suede made by female Maasai artisans in Arusha, Tanzania.
Akili – Sustainable Style – is based in Brisbane and officially launches its e-commerce website in September 2021.