On November 8, 2014, Mombasa Apparel launched its fourth textile factory on the coast of Kenya. Its output is apparel destined for the U.S. through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The larger Mombasa Apparel investor group employs more Kenyans than Standard Charter, Barclays, East African Breweries, and Safaricom combined (Kenya’s most visible companies).
In the Mombasa region alone, Mombasa Apparel now maintains 10,000 salaried employees in its four factories. Mombasa Apparel Managing Director Fakhruddin G. Amiji is encouraged by the productivity of his Kenyan employees in the newly opened fourth factory, noting that “the vast majority of young, especially women workers, have never before operated machinery or worked in industry.” With intense on-the-job training, these newly employed young Kenyans are close to reaching the industry norm for productivity. The company plans to have a fifth factory online by the close of 2015. The capital investment for factory four and five is $25 million.
East Africa is a reliable sourcing destination for international companies looking to diversify their portfolios and transition away from South Asia and China, which are becoming increasingly expensive. The USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub partners with East African and U.S. businesses to attract investment needed to drive economic growth and transform the East African private sector into vibrant global trading partners. The Hub introduced U.S. apparel buyers to Mombasa Apparel, helping to create the demand for more factories. Mombasa Apparel will employ 14,000 Kenyans in the coastal region by the end of 2015, positively impacting the livelihoods of nearly 100,000 Kenyans.