Project Repat is working with artisans from Kenya to turn used clothing into profits for NGOs and sustainable business for locals.
In the United States, 95% of shirts that are donated to places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are not actually sold for resale, but sold for incredibly cheap prices and then shipped to developing countries where they are put back on the markets. Inspired by the latest fashion trends in Nairobi, the founders of Project Repat saw this system as an opportunity support local artisans and NGOs.
How does it work? The t-shirts are purchased on the local markets in countries like Kenya, where Project Repat commissions local artisans to take the recycled shirts and make them into new t-shirts, scarves, skirts, and bags. The resized, refashioned apparel is then shipped back to the United States and sold, with all profits going to the people in Africa who make them and to local NGOs.
Each t-shirt has a stamp on it indicating where it was purchased and when it was brought back to the United States. They also come with a card that explains the specific NGO projects that the money used to buy them supports. Each t-shirt is made from 3 original ones., and each is unique and authentic.
The organization is completely run by volunteers and their website provides answers to questions like which NGOs are being supported, how green the project is, and the effect of the project on the local markets.
Watch their documentary below that explains the project in detail and find out why the United Nations calls Project Repat ‘smart aid.’