Bed, Bath and Beyond wants nine different product samples and World Market wants ten. Interest from these big U.S. buyers is one of the reasons that the USAID Hub supported Ivahona, a company based on the island nation of Madagascar, to attend Ambiente, the largest sourcing platform for consumer goods outside of Asia.
The USAID Hub helps create markets for American consumer goods and helps innovative, East African brands reach the U.S., particularly through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA is a U.S. Government trade preference program that gives eligible African producers the opportunity to export thousands of goods to the U.S. duty free. The Madagascar Ministry of Industry estimates that export companies like Ivahona have supported the creation of more than 32,000 jobs since Madagascar regained its AGOA eligibility in 2014.
Job creation is one of Ivahona’s priorities. The company directly employs 50 Malagasy full-time to make its stunning handbags, hats and accessories that combine natural fibers from the island (raffia) with handprinted fabric for an island chic look. For larger orders, Ivahona employs hundreds more from the villages that surround Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.
In 2012, the World Bank estimated that 90 percent of Madagascar’s 22 million population lived in absolute poverty, with a budget of approximately $2 to spend per day. If Ivahona receives large volume orders from Bed, Bath and Beyond and World Market, it can provide even more jobs for individuals who desperately need them.
“We feel like the buyers we met this time have a real interest,” said AnitaTaheraly, Business development Director for Ivahona. The buyer from Bed, Bath and Beyond asked Ivahona to expedite its samples and World Market plans to connect Ivahona with more of its buyers.
Miami boutiques already stock Ivahona’s product. If Bed, Bath and Beyond and World Market like Ivahona’s samples and its price point, soon many more Americans could be donning hip raffia hats and carrying coral printed clutches.