Henock Menza used to work in the District Office of Chencha, Ethiopia as a community officer. He has a six month-old child and his wife also works as a public employee in the area. Henock is 32 years old and had previously worked as an intermediary in his spare time to support his family. Henock was paid 1044 birr per month ($54 USD) in the public sector before he responded to a vacancy posted by Paradise Fashion in Chencha, a high-end weaving market player, to become an Ethiopian Airlines order intermediary. After getting the job, he now receives 1600 birr per month ($83 USD), motivating him to work hard and to follow up with weavers to ensure the delivery of timely and high quality airline orders.
MEDA facilitated linking Paradise Fashion with weavers in Chencha after Paradise Fashion received an order of 2000 products from Ethiopian Airlines. The order came in two phases: 500 products for the first round, and 1500 for the second. For the first phase, an agreement was signed between the weavers and Paradise Fashion, focusing on the timelines of product delivery and maintaining high quality standards. In total, 65 weavers participated in the production of the products, and each received intensive training provided by the company. The first 500 products were produced and delivered to the company and 38 weavers have started to work on the second phase.
MEDA ultimately took on the role of intermediary in an attempt to expedite the first phase of the process. They were involved in follow up of orders, distribution of inputs, collecting the final products, quality control, timely payments, and facilitating transportation of the final products to Paradise Fashion. However, for the second phase, MEDA facilitated discussion between the company and weavers where they decided to hire an intermediary to ensure the project would remain sustainable. Traditionally weavers do not want intermediaries to bridge them with high end market players, as they believe that intermediaries are not trust worthy. However, after some discussion, the weavers agreed to hire on the terms of taking 10% from the company and 10% from the weavers per product. The intermediary is now involved in quality control of the airline products, input distribution, timely payment, and collection of final products.
In terms of improving the relationship between value chain actors, creating a sustainable market linkage, and serving as a lesson for other designers, bringing a successful intermediary into the textile value chain is a great achievement and will create sustainability to the link between weavers and designers. In addition, this experience can easily be replicated. Following this success, another high-end designer working with the project hired an intermediary after understanding the benefits of Paradise Fashion's experience.