Take a bow wow: Ghanaian apparel firm stitches innovative product for U.S. dog market

Comfort Mirekua, KAD’s Quality Control Manager explains the production process for PAW5’s Wooly Snuffle Mats to Richard Chen, Director for USAID/West Africa’s Regional Economic Growth Office

American company PAW5 specializes in products to stimulate dogs mentally while feeding them—like Wooly Snuffle Mats, which hide dog food so the animal must hunt and forage through them for dinner. As well as being intent that their product enriches the lives of the pets who use it, PAW5 is committed to building a sustainable supply chain. These values led them to their newest partner: PAW5’s most recent 10,000-piece shipment was made in Ghana, by a woman-owned firm dedicated to workforce empowerment and ethical production.

In 2016, PAW5, based in Pennsylvania, contacted the Trade Hub’s apparel partner Ethical Apparel Africa (EAA) to connect them with a company that could fulfill their growing volume requirements. The company had recently been featured on the Today Show and needed more values-based suppliers to help them keep up with the increased demand. Ms. Paloma Pineda, Ethical Apparel Africa’s Chief Operating Officer, immediately thought of Kad Manufacturing, to which EAA had provided technical support, especially in pattern cutting and in quality control.

“Even though Kad had never made a product like the Wooly Snuffle Mat, we knew that they would be up to the challenge,” said Paloma Pineda Ethical Apparel Africa’s COO.

Indeed, the project took Kad into new territory, starting with the machinery needed to make the mats, which look like soft, flat hedgehogs. The company teamed with an engineering firm (Kristo Asafo) in Ghana that made a machine to assist with the production process, explained Kad’s CEO, Ms. Linda Ampah.

After producing samples that met PAW5’s high quality standards, Kad was given a 10,000-mat order. The company hired 60 people to produce the order and trained each of them extensively in the new process of stretching the fabric and attaching it to the mats.

To push through the order in six weeks, Ms. Ampah provided incentives to her workers to meet specific targets for the first time in the history of her company.

“Offering incentives was eye-opening to me” she said. “We set targets for all the groups, and they met them – 10 times over.”

Working on this order inspired Ms. Ampah to realize that Kad could work on other product lines using similar techniques, such as handbags. Kad has now produced samples of these new pieces.

With USAID support through the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Kad built its staff and factory capabilities. For two years running, Ms. Ampah joined the Trade Hub’s West African delegation at Sourcing at MAGIC, the world’s largest apparel trade show, where she has made valuable contacts leading to orders from the U.S.

The PAW5 order has helped move Kad up to a different level, Ms. Ampah noted with delight. “As we grow, we will certainly continue to experiment with new ways of doing things,” she said. “Now that we’ve done this, I feel all things are possible!”

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West Africa Trade and Investment Hub - Accra, Ghana - contact@watradehub.com
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