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This Dutch Startup Wants to be the Airbnb of Sustainable Sourcing

A Dutch startup is angling to become the go-to sustainable sourcing destination-cum-matchmaking service for European brands and manufacturers.

Manufy, which launched in 2019, boasts a database of more than 10,000 manufacturers from over 28 countries across the continent that have “shown valid sustainability certificates of their respective branches” of industry.

The platform wants to become the “Airbnb for fashion sourcing,” said co-founder Michiel Dicker, who aims to connect brands and manufacturers “with a click of a button,” even as markets continue to spiral amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A lot of manufacturers aren’t that visible online and depend heavily on [now-scuppered] trade shows or agents to find new business,” he told Sourcing Journal. “We wanted to create a platform that would bring together conscious buyers and manufacturers in an easy, effective and intuitive way.”

He compared Manufy to Alibaba, a similar online marketplace, except that the Dutch startup is open only to European manufacturers that have been vetted by the company for their sustainable bonafides.

“All manufacturers on the platform are screened by our team on certifications, and in the future we will have a third-party conduct audits,” he said.

While the need to source sustainably has grown over the years, the fallout from the pandemic has thrown into relief the importance of resilient procurement that can guard against future disruptions—climate change being the main one to watch.

Already, the upheaval from the coronavirus outbreak has hit European manufacturers especially hard, with mass factory closures, suspended or canceled shipments and one of the worst recessions in recent history inflicting serious harm on already precarious bottom lines.

Manufy wants to throw a lifeline. “We hope to help manufacturers find new customers and promote local sourcing,” says Dicker.

The platform offers two ways for buyers to discover manufacturers: They can search for a product they want, narrowing results, if they so choose, by filtering for a specific sustainability certification or geographical location. Alternatively, they can issue a quotation request and wait for bids. Swiping right is equally simple; buyers can reach out to potential partners directly through Manufy’s dashboard.

“We thoroughly believe that the apparel sector needs to move to more sustainable sourcing very fast,” Dicker said. “We hope our platform can contribute in the facilitation of both sustainable and local sourcing.”