The Startup Aiming to Disrupt the Market of Ecological Fashion in Ghana

Emma Forson, a fellow in this year’s AVI cohort is the founder of ELNAK Recycles, which recycles textiles for businesses and households to eliminate fabric pollution and its unwanted accumulation across the country.

ELNAK Recycles creates employment and contributes to the 8th and 9th SDE goals; Decent Work & Economic Growth and Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. In more detail, ELNAK Recycles increases the demand for second hand clothes which are sold by young lower class men and women in the markets of Accra, increasing their market sales and improving their standard of living. The startup also looks to provide more employment opportunities as they expand, which includes employing more lower to middle class seamstresses who are looking to apply their skills to make money.

After speaking to a number of self employed seamstresses in Accra, it came to Emma’s notice how these women were willing but scared and uninformed on how to develop their brands and expand their market. ELNAK Recycles seeks to help such women while also contributing to the eradication of pollution by recycling used clothes. When clothes end up in landfills, they generate greenhouse gases, so recycling them instead helps reduce the factors that contribute to climate change. Reusing the fabric of old clothes means that fewer resources, both monetary and environmental, are wasted in the making of new clothes.

ELNAK Recycles has three team members so far. Lead Emma Forson buys good quality second hand clothes, oversees the entire process from buying and revamping to the selling of the second hand clothes and also manages the company’s website. Seamstress Ama Frimpong works with Emma to transform second hand clothes into new outfits and delivery service coordinator, Kevin Blankson takes care of pick up and delivery services via his company. Emma also manages the company’s social media accounts, marketing her business by taking and posting pictures and video content for their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Upon reflection, the entrepreneur came to the conclusion that the biggest challenge she has faced so far is “having to complete so many tasks in so little time.” She plans on overcoming this by getting “more people on the team” and “breaking down the tasks to create a more efficient working process.”

Not only are Emma and her insightful mentor  Joseph Timpabi both introverts but they are also both mechanical engineers. According to the fellow, he gives her “lots of manufacturing insight”, accompanies her on trips “to outsource materials” for their shredder and “guides” her on “how to bargain in this industry.”

A Chemical and Industrial Engineering graduate, Joseph Timpabi now works at Ashesi University as an Engineering Laboratory Coordinator. 

In an interview, the mentor noted the following:

“The collaboration has been coming along well. It has been a learning experience for me since this is the first time I am experiencing the entire process of simulations and developing ideas into businesses in AVI. The collaboration between myself and my mentee has been pretty engaging. All in all, it has been coming along pretty well.”

Similarly, Emma noted that:

“We are on the same page most of the time and he is very understanding. I like that I can discuss engineering matters with him and he gives very good advice.”