SOKO: Using Technology to Connect to Ethical Handcrafted Jewelry
Paying by mobile phone is easier in Kenya then anywhere else in the world. According to the Economist, over 17m Kenyans use it, equivalent to more than two-thirds of the adult population; and around 25% of the country’s gross national product flows through it. The technology allows people to transfer cash using their phones and for accessory brand Soko, the fashion-tech company that connects developing world artisan entrepreneurs to global market demand. Soko’s vision and mobile technology connects a network of over 1,000 independent artisans through what they call their “virtual factory”.
Soko’s supply chain innovations have enabled them to bridge world artisan production, mostly in Kenya, with real-time global demand for their designs. A mobile phone driven supply chain coordinates opportunity, production and fulfillment with no centralized point of production or overhead resulting in a model so efficient and affordable that artisans retain an unprecedented 25-35% of revenue while Soko is able to compete on price and timelines in the mainstream market. Soko has been recognized as a game changing ethical fashion innovator by Forbes, CNN, the World Bank, Huffington Post, and more.
Soko’s mission is to transform ethical fashion from a niche player in the global fashion industry to a meaningful and competitive sourcing and purchasing option for global brands and individual consumers alike. Their unique model is doing just this by pioneering what they call ‘Ethical Fast Fashion’ – providing close to real time trend responsive product that is both price sensitive and socially and ethically handcrafted by marginalized creatives living and working in the developing world.
The modern, fashion forward products, handmade from ethically sourced and upcycled materials, have become a favorite of more than 300 international retailers ranging from Nordstrom, The Reformation, and Anthropologie, and endorsed for social impact by the United Nations, USAID, and the World Bank.
Want to learn more? Soko co-founder Gwendolyn Floyd will be joining an evening of conversation on sustainability with seven other esteemed fashion brands at the EcoSessions: Fashion x Africa mini-conference on May 2 from 7-10 pm at FIT’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre. Admission is free and open to all, register here. #fashionxAfrica