Considering the importance of private firms and direct foreign investment, the Eritrean government reached an agreement with the Zambaiti Group in Italy which took over Asmara textile factory and setup Za.Er textile factory. Asmara textile factory, today’s Za.Er, was founded by an Italian, Mr. barattolo in 1960. At that time, the factory was mainly engaged in producing cotton brought from Ali-Gdr, and spinning for later exportation.
Set on 76,000 square meters and with an investment of large sum of money, material and human resources, the factory started almost from scratch. The factory started its operation by importing raw materials and produce supplies that are useful for manufacturing clothes. In addition to this, the factory was operated by foreigners but parallel with their work the foreigners were giving training to the Eritrean employees help to enhance their knowledge of textile and weaving. As a result, today 90% of the employees are Eritreans. The factory exports 98% of its products which are called dolce vita, to Italy, but it also exports its products to Zambia. Other than this, 20% from the spin produced is used to produce different textile products and the rest is exported to other nations.
Mr. Ambrish Agnihotri, the General Manager of Za.Er factory, said that the prospect of the factory in the near future is to increase the number of employees and double the production of towels, t-shirts and bed sheets. He also said the factory is trying to manufacture garments using cotton cultivated in Eritrea. The factory is working to be more competitive in the international market, and increase its export to Europe and Africa. The factory started exporting and competing at the international market in 2006. At first the factory was exporting blouses and spin but with time it improved its products and began exporting trousers, jackets, t-shirts, pajamas and different house hold clothes.
The factory has provided job opportunities to Eritreans and sells its products locally in four outlets markets in Asmara and Keren. This year the factory plans to produce military uniforms.
Women are the back bone of any society. Women, especially mothers who work outside their home are self-reliant and help their own families economically, but they are often deprived from their job after giving birth. That is not the case at Za.Er factory.
As Mr. Ambrish said, since the factory has 550 employees and 80% of them are women, providing the nursery is believed to bring a relief for the mothers. The nursery service started in 2005, to reduce the challenges of women after giving birth. With the initiatives of the factory owner’s wife, nursery service started only six babies. From that time on mother of children aged three months and above began to use the nursery room, where the children are kept until their mothers finish their work. This allows the mother to take care of her baby as she wants and also be productive at work. This kind of service is given until the children became four. Now the nursery is providing service to 45 babies. Food, cloths, pampers and basic Italian language lessons are given to the children free of charge. Not only this, the owner and his wife also send the babies to an Italian-medium school after they turn four, where they continue their education without their parents having to cover the school fees and other expenses.
Mrs. Ghenet Tewelde, who has been working in the factory since 2005, said that her knowledge of textile products was at first very basic but now because of the training given by the factory her knowledge is upgraded and she is now working as the head of the blouse production unit. She is also one of the beneficiary of the factory’s day care.
Mrs. Ngsti Abrham has also worked at the factory for the past 13 years. She said that, she is getting a double benefit because along with her good salary her first and second children are learning without any expense from her.