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Mantis World / Sunflag Tanzania | Business leaders | New Entrepreneurs - Ethical Fashion Forum

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Business Leaders

The Business

Based in Tanzania, East Africa, the Mantis World factory called Sunflag, uses local raw materials and Tanzanian or Ugandan grown cotton, to manufacture clothing. Mantis World continually increase the levels of organic cotton they use in production (5000 bales were used in 2008) –an annual increase of 150%. They use environmentally sensitive and GOTS approved Huntsman dyes for the organic cotton products.

Sunflag factory is a vertical unit covering spinning, knitting, dyeing/processing, cutting, sewing, printing and packing. By using local raw materials and keeping all steps of production under one roof with no sub-contracting Mantis World offer complete transparency, easy traceability and minimise the transportation of goods in the production process. Mantis World workers have a security of income because they are employed rather than operating on a “piece rate”.

Sunflag factory collects condensed water to save energy, resulting in 200,000 litres of recycled water a day. Low-carbon energy sources are used to power the factory. Additionally Mantis World have higher than average industry norms for “right first time” dyeing (95% compared with industry average of 50%). This means they use less chemicals and water as they don’t have to re-process their fabrics as often.

By holding large amounts of stock in the UK ready for immediate delivery, Mantis World are able to minimise the pressure placed on factory working hours by last minute panic orders and give more time to sea freight goods.

Mantis World also goes beyond the “tick box” mentality of social compliance audits and genuinely thinks about what matters for workers. A few example of their many initiatives include:

  • A highly subsidised nutritious daily meal (cost to worker $0.13)
  • Free housing or housing allowance to long-serving employees
  • On site health clinic offering first aid, medical attention and access to free basic medication
  • Travel allowance for workers going on annual leave
  • Awareness campaigning to workers on HIV/AIDS, in collaboration with local NGOs
  • Support for employees who are infected with HIV

The History

Since the 60’s Mantis World have experienced a complete change in local and global economic systems – from a socialist closed market Tanzanian economy to now competing in a globalised world.
The company have faced many challenges operating in a country with very limited infrastructure, government resources and little or no ancillary textile industries. Their approach is to meet these challenges head on to compete globally while taking care of environmental and social responsibilities.

The Mission

Mantis World employs over 2000 people in Tanzania, and are one of the largest private employers in the country. They buy over $6m worth of Tanzanian cotton per year, which supports thousands of small scale farmers and their families.

Textile manufacture as yet is not a very big sector in Tanzania and most of the employees have no prior experience, so Mantis World teach them from scratch. In 2004 they set up a sewing training school which has provided training and a means to earn a livelihood for over 1000 unskilled and unemployed people.

The Future

Mantis World work in close contact with organisations such as Solidaridad and are long-term partners with BioRe Foundation and Edun Live. The company are also in regular contact with the FairTrade Foundation and FLO to set up a FairTrade cotton certification for East Africa.

Mantis World are on path to improve further social compliance. The 5 year plan includes getting SA8000 certification. Work continues to reduce their carbon and water footprints, including investigating solar power as an energy source and researching new technologies.

Mantis World / Sunflag Tanzania

Mantis World has been active in textile manufacture in Africa since the 1960s. A Manufacturer of Organic and Conventional Cotton Womenswear, Menswear, Childrenswear and Babywear (knitted fabrics).

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