YEVU in a nutshell
YEVU is a business with purpose. We are proudly Ghanaian made and co-owned. We are female owned, led and majority employed. And we believe in the transformative impact of economically empowered women.
Founded in 2012, YEVU has spent more than a decade creating fair and sustainable jobs in Ghana with, and for, women. Jobs at YEVU pay a livable wage, provide full-time and dignified work, guarantee health care and social security, and build the capacity and technical skill set of our team. This enables YEVU to produce high quality and ethical apparel that competes in a global market whilst having a positive social impact.
YEVU owns and operates it's own factory in Ghana's capital, Accra, ensuring accountability and transparency across its operations and supply chain. After 10 years of refining this in-house model of production, combined with a 100% retention rate of a highly skilled and growing workforce, YEVU is even able to open its factory doors to other brands that want to manufacture ethically in Ghana, setting a benchmark in the country.
Our story begins with a chance meeting between now Founders Anna Robertson (left) and Felicia Adwubi (right) in 2012 in Ghana's capital, Accra. At the time, Australian born Anna was working in the aid and development sector in Ghana, and Ghanaian born Felicia, was undertaking her apprenticeship course in sewing.
Working out of a large and underutilized workshop, Anna met Felicia and several other female sewing apprentices who were making very little income creating bespoke wax printed garments for a local market. The work coming in from the immediate community was infrequent and poorly paid.
During this initial year in Ghana, Anna formed relationships with Felicia and the group of seamstresses - stories were exchanged and ideas were dreamt up in response to the very real challenges that women like Felicia face in Ghana. They are systemically financially excluded, often without access to formal bank accounts, have limited access to capital and very little financial security. Many are single mothers and desire to support thier families better and be financially independent.
These are the realities of the informal sector, where almost 70% of women in Ghana earn their livelihood. It’s a precarious and often dangerous place to work, and is characterised by unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, low and irregular incomes and long working hours, and yet it makes up 80% of all economic activity in Ghana.
With access to bigger and wealthier markets through Anna’s privileged background and place of birth, the idea to create and sell garments initially to the Australian consumer was conceived, and YEVU Clothing was born
Ghana's rich history of textiles and wax print propelled this idea into a reality, with the wholsesale markets of Accra overflowing with vibrant and culturally unique wax prints available at scale, and a small but viable textile industry to support YEVU's growth. This context provided the perfect backdrop for YEVU’s first collection of unisex Summer wear released through YEVU's first pop up store in Sydney's Surry Hills in 2013.
YEVU's origin was founded in purpose - to create fair and dignified economic opportunities for women in Ghana. Since inception, YEVU has been able to grow its impact substantially, enabled through YEVU's slow but steady growth over the last 10 years. Despite being bootstrapped from the beginning, YEVU has grown in revenue, acquired loyal customers from all over the world, and become profitable. We offfer an awesome product that looks good, feels good and does good, and we are proud of our success.
Today (in 2022), YEVU employs a team of 30 staff in Ghana in permanent and full time work. Over 80% of this workforce is female, and everyone in our team joined us from the informal sector. This team makes almost 10,000 units of YEVU Clothing per year in our Accra factory, and our Australian partner for social impact, Avenue, packs on average around 4000 orders per year and counting, whilst providing inclusive employment opportunities for people of all abilities. See our impact in numbers here.
YEVU pays above urban Ghana's living wage benchmark, meaning that our staff are able to provide for an entire household on their sole income. We know that on this wage, our team is earning 4-6 times what they were earning before joining YEVU. We also know that providing especially single mums with a liveable income means that as the breadwinners, they can send their children to school on their sole salary, provide for the whole household, and also have enough for emergencies and to save. Education, especially for the daughters of these women, goes a long way in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Read more about our impact here.
And ten years since Anna and Felicia's initial chance meeting, they collectively own and operate YEVU as business partners. Anna owns and operates the Australian arm of YEVU (YEVU Clothing), and Felicia owns and operates the Ghanaian arm of YEVU (The YEVU Foundation). YEVU is setup as a hybrid social enterpise, with the revenue made through YEVU Clothing redistributed to the YEVU Foundation to support fair and liveable wages, the operation of the YEVU Foundation factory, the wellbeing and training of the team, campaign and marketing activities and social impact projects (just to list a few things!). Read more about our unique structure here
Our Impact Pillars
1. Inclusive, dignified and sustainable jobs
2. Fair liveable wages
3. Skill training and capacity building
4. Partnerships for social impact
5. Economically empowered women
6. Supply chain ownership & ethical manufacturing
YEVU is a hybrid social enterprise with legal entities, operations and ownership in both Ghana and Australia. We made a diagram to show this because pictures are more fun than words.