Conservation, Carbon & Clothes: Wildlife Works & Soko Visit in Tsavo - Kenya

Zane Wilemon and I visited the Wildlife Works and Soko Eco-factories in Tsavo this week. Nestled in 70,000 acres of conservation land, it’s hard to believe that the collections of Puma, ASOS and runway lines of SUNO and Edun are literally made here in the bush.

We stayed at the cozy eco-lodge in Rukinga, run by Camps International, which provides GAP year students experience in conservation.

Riding atop a Land Cruiser, it’s a 20 minute bumpy game drive to Wildlife Work’s office, where we saw elephants, zebras and giraffes along the way. A pretty awesome morning commute, I must say. Sure beats taking the Manhattan subway.

Our hosts, Joanna Maiden, Founder of SOKO and Lore DeFranc showed us around the site and chatted with us about the progress, the challenges and their exciting future. Their inspiring model is setting the standard for fashion brand-social enterprise partnerships. This is way of the future!

Wildlife Works signed an industry breakthrough partnership agreement with Puma to produce clothing at its local eco-factory. Puma invested $200,000 USD to build a separate eco-factory at Wildlife Works to exclusively handle Puma’s production of 10,000 graphic t-shirts a month.

At the same time, its holding company PPR Group, which owns luxury brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen & YSL, purchased nearly 100,000 tons of carbon credits (at a value of $5 million USD) from the Kasigau Corridor REDD project to help offset its annual C02 emissions.

Through the REDD project, each location around Wildlife Works’ conservation area received an impressive $50,000 to be invested into projects of their choice. This amount resulted from carbon credits sold for the period between June and August 2011. The Locational Carbon Committee allotted 20% of funds to 5 regional school bursaries, and the rest on water projects and other infrastructure.

PPR Group has made a further impact investment in Wildlife Works by acquiring 5% of the company. As such, PPR Group joins German insurer Allianz as major Wildlife Works investors, as Allianz also acquired a 10% stake in Wildlife Works.