Ann Brown, 1:04 pm AFKI Original
When a coup in Madagascar sent her father into bankruptcy, 24-year-old Hanta Tiana Ranaivo Rajaonarisoa was forced to abandon her business administration studies in the U.S. She took over the family’s unused essential oil-making machine, and now supplies insect repellants to 40 pharmacies in Madagascar. Malaria is one of the country’s top 5 causes of death. Rajaonarisoa says she’s helping protect Madagascar’s amazing biodiversity — up to 90 percent of the country’s plant species are endemic — by using green waste recovery in her products.
Ann Brown, 12:48 pm AFKI Original
There is no Silicon Valley in Cape Verde. The government sells a lot of tech services that independent companies could be providing, acting as both regulator and provider. This limits the private market, says Pedro Fernandes Lopes, a local who is bringing the first TEDx talk event to the island nation. It took a local Cape Verdean tech startup months just to register an app because Google didn’t recognize Cape Verde, Lopes told AFKInsider. “We need to raise the global visibility of Cape Verde and its tech innovators. And I think TEDx Praia will play a part in that.”
Ann Brown, 2:31 pm AFKI Original
In Nigeria’s competitive advertising and marketing environment, Adaora Mbelu-Dania has learned that standing out sometimes means sitting down — at the table, that is — with agencies much larger than her own. A creative consultant, she counts among her clients a violinist, graffiti artist and contortionist. “Size does not matter,” she told AFKInsider. “We are a small agency, and have pitched for jobs alongside the popular or large agencies. We’ve been chosen over them several times. We are not afraid to sit at the same table as global agencies.”
Ann Brown, 9:41 am AFKI Original
Graduating from art school with honors is no guarantee you’ll make it as an artist in Africa or anywhere else. Nigerian painter Oresegun Olumide beat the odds, amazing the world with oil paintings so realistic, they look like photos. Using the people of his Lagos community as subjects, his social media posts go viral. He wants African governments to provide more structure for showcasing African arts heritage to the world. Nigerian society doesn’t accept art and artists well, he said. It is not a priority. “Artists can bring to life the history of Africa through painting. We can tell Africa’s story but we need funding to do so.”
Ann Brown, 2:52 pm AFKI Original
Simbarashe Mhuriro has learned that doing business in a country with a bad reputation requires a fighting spirit. Mhuriro founded Oxygen Africa, raising $7 million so far to develop grid-connected solar plants in Zimbabwe. “Every time I step in front of a panel of investors, it’s like stepping into a ring and fighting for your country,” he told AFKInsider. In the process, Mhuriro said he has learned to create his own destiny. “With renewable energy you get to effect change in people’s thoughts and actions.”
Ann Brown, 9:00 am AFKI Original
Nigerian-American Olatorera Oniru worked full time for some of the largest corporations in the world, but kept her dream alive by working part time for herself. At 29, she owns one of Nigeria’s top e-commerce fashion businesses. Focused on the Made-in-Africa movement, she mentors other entrepreneurs with potential in fashion and beauty who have not met the quality criteria to retail with her. Many university graduates don’t have the skills to succeed in the business world, and it’s one of the challenges of doing business in Africa, Oniru told AFKInsider.
Ann Brown, 8:12 am AFKI Original
A survivor of the Rwandan genocide, entrepreneur Marcel Mutsindashyaka chose to use the media, not for revenge, but for peace building. His Rwandan media and IT company has helped restore unity in the country by engaging youth. It is now the second most popular news website in Rwanda. Mutsindashyaka was chosen to be in Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The experience “opened my mind from local to global perspective,” he told AFKInsider. “From this I realized that there is potential for the U.S. and Africa to collaborate for mutual benefit.”
Ann Brown, 11:29 am AFKI Original
Kolisile Theo Ndindwa grew up in Gugulethu township, builing a successful dance business against the odds. “The expectation is that we must always be working for a big and established arts organization, but these institutions have not transformed or reinvented themselves,” he told AFKInsider. Ndindwa is creating space for new talent, new voices, new stories. An Obama Young African Leader, he said the YALI program helped connect and unite the next generation of African entrepreneurs.
Ann Brown, 9:47 am AFKI Original
The African poultry sector is growing, especially in Tanzania. Eugene Paul Kavishe grew his poultry operation from 300 birds to 15,000 egg layers, thanks in part to U.S.-sponsored entrepreneur programs. Getting financing has been one of his biggest challenges. “Local financial institutions term agriculture as a very risky business,” he told AFKInsider. In 2014 he was chosen for Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. YALI offers African entrepreneurs a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a wealth of business knowledge, he said. “I hope that it will continue (in the next U.S. administration).”
Ann Brown, 11:52 am AFKI Original
Starting a fashion business in Cape Verde didn’t make much business sense. Cape Verde has a subsistence economy and Cindy Monteiro’s fashion brand targets a luxury segment. But the Cape Verde native has built a celebrity following. “You end up doing it more for your own pleasure than for the return,” she told AFKInsider. What fashion style do women in Cape Verde want? They want to look sexy, Monteiro said. “And for me sexy is about self confidence and power. Powerful women are sexy.”