Hela Clothing, an apparel manufacturer with 10 factories across Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Kenya, has been recognised by the Kenyan President for its resilience and ingenuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an address on Labour Day, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya described Hela Clothing as an innovative company that has been able to cater to the global PPE shortages while protecting jobs in an extremely challenging market environment.
At a time when saving jobs in apparel manufacturing sector became too crucial and many factories failed to do that, Hela Clothing added over 2,000 jobs across its manufacturing locations, provided bonuses, reinstated the salaries of the senior management members by September ’20 and repaid deferred payments of other employees by December ’20.
“When the COVID pandemic hit our country, this EPZ Company quickly discovered the opportunity and switched to the production of PPEs and face masks. By rejecting paralysis and embracing innovation, this company saved over 300 workers from joblessness,” commented President Kenyatta, according to Colombo Page.
Hela Clothing entered the PPE segment during the pandemic back in 2020 and has now identified it as a long-term pillar of its global business.
The company says the plans are currently underway to operate a separate factory for the production of medical grade PPE in collaboration with the Aga Khan Foundation –a private not-for-profit international development agency, which operates state-of-the-art medical universities across Asia and Africa.
It’s worth noting here that Hela Clothing established its African operations back in 2016 in Kenya and has grown significantly in intimatewear segment since then, accounting over 15 per cent of total Kenyan apparel exports.
“It was an honour to be held up as an example of innovation in Labour Day address to the nation,” shared Shameen Peiris, CEO of Hela’s Intimates Cluster, Kenya, adding, “It is further validation of the decisions we made early-on in the pandemic that ensured business continuity and safeguarded the livelihoods of our employees. And it is a testament to the agility of our team that we were able to identify a growing need and adapt the business accordingly, which in turn allowed Hela to play a small part in global recovery efforts during the pandemic.”