USG delegation visits Benin apparel maker, talks with the company’s main U.S. buyer

Hurley’s Religious Goods has placed a 10,000-piece order of cassocks, shirts and handkerchiefs with the Benin-based ANC factory. This translates to employment for many young people including young women who will work on the order. Photo credit: ANC.

Officials from the U.S. Embassy and USAID/Benin visited Africa New Confection (ANC), a leading apparel manufacturer, on March 1. There, they learned how Trade Hub assistance is yielding improvements and deals for the emerging exporter and spoke with a U.S. buyer visiting ANC at the same time.

ANC owner Mr. Isidore Kouton, said USAID through the Hub has supported ANC to upgrade factory operations.

“With the help of the Trade Hub, we have been able to train our workers to enhance their skills at various stages of garment production, and have successfully executed and shipped our first international export to the U.K,” Mr. Kouton said.

In 2015 and 2016, the Hub and its apparel partner Ethical Apparel Africa (EAA) hired a digital pattern-making expert to train ANC on using its Gerber digital plotter—purchased in 2013 and gathering dust. With the training, ANC was immediately able to start using the machine to produce a pilot order for U.K.-based Irvine Shirts.

The visiting delegation also heard firsthand from Mr. Mark McAllister, the founder of Hurley’s Religious Goods, who met ANC at the 2016 Sourcing at MAGIC show, to which the Hub had supported ANC to participate, in Las Vegas. Mr. McAllister has since worked closely with ANC on a 10,000-piece order of cassocks, shirts and handkerchiefs. He was in Benin to finalize details—including sizing, fabric selection and pricing—prior to commencing production in May 2017.

“We are very happy with the samples provided by ANC and look forward to a long-lasting business relationship,” Mr. McAllister said.

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