Interview of Pranav Khanna
Hecho x Nosotros Partner and Strategy Advisor
Nowadays our societies face many challenges, yet we also have multiple opportunities for inclusive social and economic development. Which opportunities would you depict as the key ones? How do you envision that these opportunities can be settled down?
The world today is moving fast and with vaccines being rapidly deployed, we hopefully shall overcome this challenge soon. In the meantime, there are movements throughout the globe aimed at building a better world. In this scenario, there are different megatrends; that of digitalization, using computers and mobile phones for connection, the megatrend of entrepreneurship, where more and more people are working on their own. What we call the “geek economy”. There is new global recognition of the challenges we face like climate change and lack of resources. In this scenario, the most interesting opportunities allow for inclusive, social and economic development. In my mind, an open economy, climate technology and MSMEs will play a huge role in bringing the economy back and better.
You have been a part of Hecho por Nosotros leading multiple programs and taking our mission forward. You have worked closely with us to reach systemic change in the fashion industry. How do you find that the fashion industry can serve as a platform for change and how can we transform the industry into a force for good in our society?
Like any other industry, its intensity makes the fashion industry one of the largest employers in the global economy. It is also one of the largest contributors of polluting gases, and one of the largest polluters of our water resources. Fashion has the potential to be a change agent. For example, it can potentially bring a huge change in the quality of life of the people in the world of fashion change. Whether they might be farmers, artisans, or even the designers who produce commerce. All of their lives can be impacted and improved by using fashion as a change agent. Fashion can also influence the behaviour of consumers. We've all along to date been bot-up on a linear model of fashion. We have been buying, using and throwing. Fashion can transform this linear supply chain into a dual cycle of supply change, where we ensure that commerce and fashion are used to the fullest, and then recycle all of the cycles thereby closing the loop. So that resource efficiencies can be obtained. Fashion can also be a change agent in the use of those resources that go about and produce fashion, for example, energy. Fashion can rapidly ensure that most of the energy comes from renewable sources and also be influenced and the waste that is used while producing fashion is not processed appropriately. So, as to recover resources from the waste.
Which would you say is the role of women and youth towards this change the fashion industry so desperately needs?
Women and youth today, rapidly waking up their power, their power to bring about change. And I think in fashion, and specifically in the fashion space, women and the youth, they bring about new perspectives, and they are all to bring about the desire for improvement. And I think that adds to the urgency for the fashion industry. Because the fashion industry has to satisfy these requirements and satisfy these asks from the women and the youth while part of the fashion industry.
We understand the technology and digital tools are the keys to empower the grassroot actors of this huge global fashion industry. Yet, which would you say are the challenges we face in the introduction of technological and digital tools to empower these disadvantaged communities? (indigenous, rural artisans and marginalized urban communities, specifically)
Change is always challenging. As we look to leverage technological and digital tools, we empower the second stage communities to face challenges. Most challenges can be overcome with education and connecting the people to the resources. For example, we have the challenge of the language gap. There are different countries and different communities that speak languages. And tools are available in one language and not in the other. We also have the challenges of cultural perspectives, for example, people in Europe look at things very differently than people from India and South America. We also have the challenge of the cost. There are a lot of these technological tools and solutions at huge costs and more. Not just implementations, but also in getting educated about them. And lastly, a lot of these technological and digital solutions are fragmented. Hence, when we look to leverage them, we have to put these different pieces together to complete solutions to enable us to leverage them.
How much do you agree with the following statement: The fashion industry has been both, positively and negatively affected by COVID-19 in relation to the achievement of Agenda 2030 towards sustainable development. Please explain why.
The fashion industry has been both positively and negatively affected by COVID-19 in relation to the achievement of Agenda 20-30 to our sustainable development. I have mixed feelings about these statements. Because in the short term, we have definitely, as an industry... the fashion industry has definitely been very negatively affected. The market has simply dropped. Consumption has gone down massively. Supply chains have been broken which has led to a lot of people suffering. However, if one looked at such heavy perspectives, as the one of 2030, I think one of the biggest positive benefits that COVID-19 has bought, is to bring about a word for this in Hindi called "her-ral": It is to bring about a clear mind where it has been possible for people to see the horrors and the damages that have been inflicted upon the environment and the challenge of climate change. I think climate change and the fact that people are suffering today along with the sustainable development goals are far away of, has been brought home. But all the difficulties that everybody has caused anger, pain, and most individuals have faced the loss of the loved one. I think that has brought about a new perspective for everybody and more than the fashion industry. To talk that none of the challenges and the pain that the supply chain, that artisans, that manufacturers, that farmers face when they get low remunerations for their products and when they are forced to use harmful chemicals to keep the price low. I think that realization where we all agree that change has to be bargained for. We all agree that we have to make the supply chain resilient. We all agree that we have to make the supply chain cleaner. more transparent and traceable. I think that perspective shift is one of the biggest benefits of COVID-19 for the fashion industry.
How to use technology to democratize value chains, and how to relate to impact investment funds?
Impacts in this many forms have specific objectives. They could be improving the quality of water in a particular region or in the livelihood and the standard of living. The fashion industry starting right from the farmer in the supply chain through to the artisans, to the micro and small manufacturing units, represents an avenue for impact investment farms to not just rise and bring about these changes, but to institute these changes by aligning them in the farm, by aligning their investments with the business model they say that the best way to keep a man from going hungry is to teach him how to fish or to farm. Hence, when we align the impact investments with business models we ensure that those business models endeavour, we ensure that behaviour is changed, and we ensure that these changes remain.