Coimbatore-based integrated textile manufacturing company KPR Mill Ltd recently inaugurated its first overseas garment unit in Ethiopia’s Mekelle Industrial Park. The factory will have an annual capacity of 10 mn items. Seven hundred people have been employed at the unit and export shipments have commenced to Europe and the United States. The opening of the factory is the result of a collaborative partnership with Geneva-based International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa programme (SITA), which works to build trade and investment linkages between India and East Africa. ITC is a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations (UN).

The inauguration of the factory–KPR Export–was attended by ITC Executive Director Arancha González and KPR Mill Chairman KP Ramasamy. Funded by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID), ITC’s SITA programme aims to improve the competitiveness of selected value chains, including textiles and apparel, in five East African countries–Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania–through the provision of partnerships with institutions and businesses from India.

The decision to by KPR Mill to open the production unit in Mekelle followed a visit to Ethiopia by its Ramasamy and senior management team in April last year. KPR Mill made an initial investment commitment of $20 mn. By July 2018, KPR Export Plc was registered as a subsidiary in Ethiopia. Training of the workforce took place in both Ethiopia and India. At full capacity, the company will employ 1,500 machine workers who will produce 50,000 garment pieces per day.