We at the Miratel blog have previously written about several for-profit business models that have been built on its CSR business values appealing to consumers wanting to feel good about their purchases and the brands they support. TOMS shoes really put this on the map with its “One for One” concept which they have recently expanded into TOMS eyewear. There is also Warby Parker, Sevenly and project 360 who all have their own unique take on this concept. And then there is Edun (nude backwards). The Edun clothing line is a prime example of how a company can use its CSR business values to create social change and turn a profit.
Ali Hewson and her husband Bono, U2 front man, founded the fashion brand in 2005. The pair have “a lifelong love for the continent [of Africa]. Edun wants to encourage other fashion brands to trade with Africa in order to help attract more volumes of trade to Sub-Saharan Africa.” The Edun website states that “Edun is a for-profit business with the aim of creating a global fashion brand, making beautiful clothing whilst committing to developing trade with Africa and encouraging others to do the same. Edun is based on a belief that style should have substance and while it has always sourced globally, as its business grows so does its production and work in Africa.”
Edun - edun.com
What sets Edun apart from other socially minded clothing brands is that they are striving to bring viable commerce to an area in desperate need. They are trying to lead by example and prove that a company can do business in Africa and not have it negatively impact its bottom line or production quality.
The company has already made great social strides in its mission but didn’t stop there. “In 2008, Edun established the Conservation Cotton Initiative Uganda (CCIU) together with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Invisible Children. CCIU provides funding, training and enterprise support to cotton farmers to help build sustainable businesses in Northern Uganda, one of the poorest areas of Uganda which is recovering from 25 years of civil war. It currently supports 4.000 farmers and their families and [aims] to keep growing this number to reach 8,000 farmers by 2013. This year Edun is proud to introduce CCIU cotton into the production of its Kenya Kids Tees and Edun Basics for its fashion collection.” By creating sustainable businesses they are helping to build an economic infrastructure in this impoverished area that considers the environment.
Edun has designed a line of t-shirts whose profits are all going to the Bidii School in Kibera, Kenya. They had asked students from the school to draw their world and then the images were “brought to life through graphic tees.” Kibera is home to one of the largest slums in Africa with 1.5 million people. These t-shirts will fund the school with supplies, which in turn will help give the children of the region a better future.
Congrats to the folks at Edun for demonstrating that trade and commerce with Africa is both possible and viable. Not only are they sourcing new business opportunities but they are also bettering communities for future generations by giving people a means to support themselves and their families. Critics could pick it apart but at the end of the day, Edun is navigating its way through rarely chartered territories while remaining mindful of its original CSR business intentions.
The Edun Pioneers Project
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