Dow and public-private cooperation pave the way for a sustainable fashion industry in Ethiopia

  • The environmental impact of textile and garment manufacturing is a key challenge as the industry sector in Ethiopia booms.
  • Public-private cooperation project supports sustainable chemical and waste management best practices along the textile value chain through education, training and advisory programs.

Dow Europe GmbH, Horgen, Switzerland (“Dow”) – September 29, 2022 – Dow (NYSE: DOW) supported a three-year cooperation project with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Dutch ZDHC Foundation to develop more sustainable manufacturing processes within the fast-growing fashion industry in Ethiopia. Through education, training programs and business consultancy capabilities, the project successfully paved the way for improved sustainable chemical and waste management practices along the textile value chain.

The textile industry is one of the key growth sectors in Ethiopia. In recent years, the country has attracted foreign investments for new textile and garment manufacturing facilities and several international brands and retailers have shifted their textile and garment sourcing to Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia has the potential to become one of the leading textile and apparel hubs in Africa. Alongisde this growth, there are opportunities to improve chemical management and prevent water pollution,” said project leader Maimuma Hussein, Dow Industrial Solutions.

“We believe that through industry collaboration and best practice knowledge sharing we can support the textile value chain in implementing more sustainable chemical and waste management practices and make a positive social, environmental, and economic impact in Ethiopia,” adds Cicelia van Rooi, sales director, Dow Industrial Solutions Middle East, Africa & India and Managing Director, Dow Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Value Chain Collaboration

The scope of the project was twofold, involving academia and industry stakeholders. First, the project team worked with the Ethiopian Institute of Textile and Fashion Technology (EiTEX), part of the Bahir Dar University, to implement a technical training program for lecturers and develop a new Chemical Management curriculum for undergraduate students. The Ministry of Education in Ethiopia approved the curriculum and adopted it as a national program of studies.

The second project pillar focused on building awareness and capabilities of factory management and workers across the textile supply chain to implement and maintain an effective sustainable chemical management system based on industry best-practice guidelines from ZDHC. To enable a continued and cost-effective support to local businesses and industry professionals, sustainable chemical management consultancy capabilities were set-up through a network of trained local consultants. These companies are now listed as ZDHC Approved Training Providers and can provide the official ZDHC training programmes to the Ethiopian markets.

The project was able to establish sustainable structures for training in the environmentally and ecologically responsible disposal of chemicals and waste. The first 100 university students already completed the e-learning curriculum, and managers and operators from 20 textile factories were trained and kick-started the implementation of improved chemical management system processes. As the project ends, the network of seven qualified chemical management consultants will continue to support businesses and industry professionals with ongoing training and on-site consultancy. All materials developed in the project will remain available to the educational institutions for their further use.

“We gladly worked with Dow and GIZ on this project as it directly supports our ‘Roadmap to Zero Programme,’ aimed at leading the fashion industry to eliminate harmful chemicals from its global supply chain by building the foundation for more sustainable manufacturing,” said Klaas Nuttbohm, Implementation Director of ZDHC Foundation. “Working together with local stakeholders paved the way to improved sustainable chemical and waste management practices being implemented in Ethiopia.”

Project Funding

The three-year project was co-funded by Dow’s Business Impact Fund. This competitive grant program designates corporate contributions toward projects designed to help address social problems through our technology and expertise. Funding proposals come directly from Dow employees worldwide, tapping into their unique skills, business knowledge, and diversity of locations and experiences.

Dow and GIZ have been working together within the framework of the develoPPP funding programme, which GIZ implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). In the cooperation project, the public and private partners bundled their expertise and financial contributions and worked closely together in all steps from project planning to the development and implementation of the trainings and awareness-raising activities.

About Dow

Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines global breadth; asset integration and scale; focused innovation and materials science expertise; leading business positions; and environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership to achieve profitable growth and deliver a sustainable future. The Company's ambition is to become the most innovative, customer centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world. Dow's portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings and silicones businesses delivers a broad range of differentiated, science-based products and solutions for its customers in high-growth market segments, such as packaging, infrastructure, mobility and consumer applications. Dow operates 104 manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employs approximately 35,700 people. Dow delivered sales of approximately $55 billion in 2021. References to Dow or the Company mean Dow Inc. and its subsidiaries. For more information, please visit or follow @DowNewsroom on Twitter.

About develoPPP

develoPPP is a funding programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is aimed at companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their local operations. Prerequisites for support are a long-term business interest in the country and a sustainable developmental benefit for the local people. With develoPPP Classic and develoPPP Ventures, the programme offers customised funding opportunities for already well-established enterprises as well as aspiring start-ups. develoPPP is implemented by two experienced partners in German development cooperation: DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

About ZDHC Foundation

ZDHC is a global multi-stakeholder initiative of more than 170 contributors within the fashion and footwear industry including Brands, Suppliers, Chemical Formulators, Solution Providers, and Associations committed to the elimination of harmful chemicals across the textile and footwear value chain. The vision is widespread implementation of sustainable chemistry, driving innovations and best practices to protect consumers, workers and the environment. To realise this vision, The ZDHC Foundation oversees the implementation of the Roadmap to Zero Programme using collaborative engagement to drive a holistic, industry-focussed and practical approach to sustainable chemical management. ZDHC Guidelines, Platforms and Solutions drive large-scale industry-wide implementation that advances the industry as a whole towards the zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. Find more information about the ZDHC Foundation at Follow us on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

For further information, please contact:

Claudia Tagliavini
+34 91 740 7845

Sitwat Azhar Hashmi
ZDHC Foundation