Mr. Cecil Duddley Mends is one of the local businessmen optimistic about the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), advocating for its implementation to benefit businesses and entrepreneurs across Africa.
In November 2021, the fashion designer said “if AfCTA is coming on board with this free trade, it is going to make our work much easier so that we import, we sew and in turn export to most of the West African countries.”
As the CEO of CDM Fashion Couture, a company that designs attires and high-end academic gowns, Cecil is well aware of the potential the AfCFTA holds to increase investment in the distribution and logistics supply chain to facilitate cross-border trading. In 2020, the fashion designer’s company diversified into designing facemasks to support Ghana’s fight against the novel coronavirus, and as the sub-region works to recover from the pandemic, he believes the AfCFTA is key.
CDM Fashion Couture imports fabrics and other raw materials from Nigeria and other countries for business, and Cecil promotes the Single African Market Programme as a way to promote a single-African market and boost intra-African trade.
The gowns designed by Cecil’s company have been worn by many prominent personalities, including President Akufo-Addo, Gambian President Adama Barrow, Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio, Liberian President George Oppong Weah, former President John Kufuor, and former President Jerry John Rawlings among other prominent personalities.
Cecil Duddley Mends is the Rector at CDM School of Design, an Accra-based fashion school that is leading the way in providing skill development in garment-making. The school emphasizes the exploration of technologies, as well as the practical skills, understanding, and knowledge that are necessary for the Ghanaian youth. Programs offered by CDMSD include a Certificate in Fashion and Design, a Diploma in Fashion, Pathway programs, and other preparatory courses.
Cecil is an impressive example of what can be accomplished in the fashion industry in Ghana. Starting from the age of 14 when he began tailoring for his neighbours, Cecil has gone on to earn a degree from the University of London, hold positions of increasing responsibility at Zoomlion, Japan Motors, and The Multimedia Group, and become the Chief Executive of CDM Fashion Couture and CDM School of Fashion. His commitment to the industry was recognized in 2017 when he was awarded the Ghana Peace Award for Best Fashion Designer. He is an inspiration to all fashion designers and entrepreneurs.