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.”
Ann Brown, 5:28 pm AFKI Original
The entire African tech startup community was shocked in June 2014 when Carey Eaton, co-founder of the largest online classifieds company in Africa, was murdered. A month earlier, Eaton had acquired a stake in BuyRentKenya, which has grown into one of Kenya’s most popular property listing sites. BuyRentKenya co-founder Jamie Pujara talked to AFKInsider about his relationship with Eaton and how BuyRentKenya is doing.
Ann Brown, 9:37 am AFKI Original
Namibian Beata Mandy Shemuvalula predicts youth development in Africa will be one of the top five profitable businesses. “We are always looking to evolve new ways to monetize old business models,” Shemuvalula told AFKInsider. Her company, Youthia, aims to empower youth entrepreneurs. It is not a charity. “How could we just talk about entrepreneurship? We had to do it ourselves,” she said. Shemuvalula was part of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.