The world’s leading consumer trade fair, Ambiente Trade Show will as parts of its 2020 edition highlight a collection of home décor and accessories by refugees under the United Nations Commission for Refugees, (UNHCR) in a special programme aimed to help them gain market access.
The collections, under the MADE1 brand name is a global initiative that connects refugee artisans with social enterprises to design, create and market for the unique home décor and fashion accessories they produce.
The project was first launched in 2018 in partnership with Messe Frankfurt Limited (MF), organisers of the Ambiente fair as the first-ever global collection of refugee-made products at a major global exhibition.
According to Director of Living and Giving at Ambiente, Ms Yvonne Engelmann, the partnership with the UNHCR particularly on the MADE1 project was to ensure sustainability, fair trade and social engagement for the refugees who are making strides on sustained livelihoods for themselves and their dependants.
The Ambiente fair which comes off from February 7-11, 2020 in Frankfurt, Germany and features items from home décor, art, architecture, fashion and lifestyle, among others offers a global meeting place for new businesses to be part of some 4,460 exhibitors from 92 countries as well as some 136,000 visitors from 167 who would be part of the five day fair.
The UNHRC partnership with the Messe Frankfurt, and themed, “Beyond CSR: Engaging in Support of Refugees Using Your Core Business Model”, Ms Engelmann said provides an enhance platform for the UN body to work with partners from the consumer and home décor industry to gain market access as parts of efforts to provide a sustained livelihood for refugee craftworkers from Mali and other parts of the world.
She said that the Ambiente team as part of an increasing awareness of the environment and their social responsibility, saw the need to create platforms which includes promoting, social and cultural developments in the manufacturing countries through fair trade for all manner of people and institutions.
Some 60 exhibitors from 10 different African countries will also participate in the fair which has been described as the biggest international sourcing platform outside China.
The countries include Kenya, Tanzania, Ivory Coast and Tunisia which has a huge list of exhibitors, while Ghana is being represented by a sole exhibitor, Delata Enterprise, exporters of the popular Bolga Baskets, African Drums among other accessories.
Ms Engelmann also maintained that while the Ambiente team would be pleased to see more Ghanaian firms taking part in Ambiente in 2021, they will require that Ghana through GEPA to commit themselves to stand space as early as possible, since openings for the following year’s fair will in March 2020
She however hoped there will be a larger Ghanaian presence at Ambiente in 2021.
She also assured that the Ambiente Team is opened for discussions on future partnerships should Ghana decides to send a delegation to the fairso that “we can strengthen the future presence of this country at the fair,” she said.
Ms Engelmann expressed regret that unlike 2019 where there were two representatives from Ghana and Mali who were admitted onto the Ambiente’spromotional programme for talented young designers from the entire world, giving them an opportunity to present their products on an international platform, there would be no representations from Africa this year, since they did not received any application from the continent.
The Talent programme which has run for nearly 20 years, would have 36young exhibitors from Brazil, Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, the Czech Republic and the United States.
“While there are no talents from Africa in 2020, we would very much welcome applications from African designers for next year,” she said.
She however commended Ms Matilda Payne’s of MH Couture & Upcycle who was the first Ghanaian to have participated in the Talent’s programme in 2019.
Ms Payne, she saidproved that waste isn’t waste, but that it still has a valueby using her wealth of imagination and craftsmanship, to give a new lease of life to waste, creating furniture and jewellery items.
The exhibition at Ambiente, Ms Engelmann said was a stepping stone for Ms Payne’s international presence,with America fashion icon Iris Apfel becoming aware of Matilda Payne’s designs.
Ms Engelmann remained hopeful young designers would take advantage of the platform the Ambiente provides to enter into the competition and expose their brands to the international community.