Sydney born Anna Robertson, founder of social enterprise YEVU, accidentally fell into the Australian fashion industry. Spending a modest number of years involved in the international development sector, cutting her teeth in an Australian based NGO that operated health and education projects in Nepal and Uganda, she quickly realised her passion for work in the not for profit world. With an honours in Political Economy, Anna’s interest was always in how the multi billion dollar charity world was funded and how this determined who was helped and how they were helped.
In a rapidly changing landscape, and the movement towards business for purpose, supplementing traditionally donor and government funded aid, Anna found herself looking toward alternative models. Taking an Australian Youth Ambassadorship in Ghana in 2012 was the beginning of the YEVU story. After spending a year working in Ghana’s good governance sector, and learning the lay of the land in her new home of Accra, Anna realised the potential in local business and industry. In Ghana, female led micro enterprises create jobs and income for those living on very little, generate the majority of informal sector economic activity all while dealing with a very challenging environment and lacking access to finance and capital. The potential to support female-led small enterprise in the West African country, and celebrate the vibrancy and cultural significance of Ghanaian wax print and textiles was the catalyst for creating YEVU.
Almost 5 years later, and YEVU has centralised production in a small factory in central Accra, employing upward of 25 men and women in sustainable full time employment, providing ongoing training in technical skills and small business, and connecting the Australian and Ghanaian markets. YEVU’s hybrid model combines a social mission with commercial activities under a single strategy – generating revenue from its printed apparel for men and women in order fund its social mission.
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