Colombian apparel is renowned for its extensive variety of fabrics, exceptional craftsmanship, and unique designs. The Wayuu people, the largest indigenous group of Columbia, have contributed to Colombia’s clothing and garment making industry, both historically, and today. As garment-making holds significant cultural value with its ties to Colombia’s indigenous groups, the country’s reputation for high-quality craftsmanship has helped it become a key differentiator in its workwear and uniform making market. The industry’s strict adherence to stringent fabric quality standards, with a particular emphasis on durability and the utilization of natural materials, enhances the meticulous construction process. With a substantial workforce, the textile industry employs a large number of individuals and plays a vital role in the country’s manufacturing GDP, having grown from 7.7% to 9.4% between 2021 and 2022.1 Notably, women constitute the majority of the sector’s workforce, comprising around 70%, owing to their cultural affinity and expertise in sewing.2
From craftsmanship to functionality, industrial clothing supports employees across industry sectors. The labour force in and around Barranquilla is mostly made up of farming, mining, and oil industries.3 Additionally, with many people also being employed in the healthcare sector, it is crucial for the workwear worn by these employees to be both durable and well-manufactured. To ensure optimal physical protection, industrial clothing manufacturers must produce workwear that can endure and withstand rigorous use, considering the demanding nature and often rugged conditions of work environments.
“The power of what is possible,” serves as the guiding principles embraced by AGC’s partner in Barranquilla. During a recent visit, AGC’s Co-CEO Sudha Bharadia gained insights into the significance of these values, witnessing first-hand how our partner’s fintech solutions are revolutionising the provision of factoring business services specifically tailored to support SMEs. Through the partner’s app technology, SMEs are empowered to leverage their factoring needs efficiently through a digital process. Fueled by a strong aspiration to transform the factoring industry, AGC’s partner has successfully facilitated the processing of over 16,000 invoices in Colombia, propelling the growth of numerous companies through their accessible and agile financing options. Their unwavering belief in innovating financial ecosystems through technology has enabled a small industrial clothing business in Barranquilla to assert its dominance in the market and provide indispensable uniform and workwear solutions to companies across Colombia.“We worked with banks for some time. Later on, we learned about AGC’s Partner as one of the platforms on the market,” shares Henry Jose Rodriguez, CEO of Confecciones el Industrial. Between 2019 and 2021, and particularly during times of economic crisis, SMEs faced declines in approval for credit as rejection rates have climbed over the last five years. Ultimately, the use of alternative sources of financing emerged with 3% of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s surveyed SMEs in Colombia seeking factoring as an option for their alternative financing resources.4 Having been in the industrial uniform market for 46 years, Confecciones el Industrial has evolved through a family of three generations of entrepreneurs that have witnessed increased demand for liquidity to cover production costs.
Confecciones el Industrial leads the market in producing industrial equipment such as anti-fluid fabric workwear, twill shirts, and joggers. The company aims to construct garments that are both functional and modern. They are accomplishing this through a staff team of forty people of which 90% are women. “The vast majority of them are mothers, at the head of their families, who work with us,” Henry Jose Rodriguez adds. Their skill involves mastering the technical understanding of industrial embroidery machinery and textile sewing machines. Although these tools are expensive for the business, the women’s proficiency in thread management, maintenance, and quality control play a pivotal role in helping the business succeed, ultimately fostering long-term growth and profitability.With Colombia’s workforce creating high demand for durable workwear, Confecciones el Industrial needed financing from AGC’s partner to meet their manufacturing obligations without going into debt with lines of credit. “We were inclined to work with AGC’s partner because of the agility of the process. They have a very user-friendly platform, which allows us to make payments very quickly after receiving client approval,” Henry Jose Rodriguez shares.
AGC’s presence in the market for championing financial inclusion establishes a dependable pathway for our partner to continue fostering growth for Henry Jose’s business. As Confecciones el Industrial has established their experience working with a range of companies such as Valle del Cauca and Santander, their future ambitions for continued development will next include piloting a launch into fashion. This partnership not only facilitates the expansion of such enterprises, but also addresses the financial constraints that impede progress within the industry, making access to financing for SMEs one of the main conditions that impacts growth. By delivering flexible capital to SMEs, AGC continues to strengthen financial ecosystems through inclusive financing, employment and in creating economic opportunities for underserved communities.