Ann Brown, 11:26 am AFKI Original
Cell phone use is growing exponentially in Africa, but with electricity scarce, charging those phones is a challenge. Africa-born, U.S.-educated entrepreneur Henri Nyakarundi saw a business opportunity. He developed a franchise system that lets other entrepreneurs run his solar-powered mobile kiosks as their own businesses in Rwanda. Now he’s developing software for content providers.
Ann Brown, 7:57 am AFKI Original
What do you do for an encore when you’ve been a World Bank executive, worked at JP Morgan in London, and done policy analysis for the U.N. in New York? If you’re Canadian-Kenyan Wandia Gichuru, you strike out on your own. Not in finance. In fashion — fashion with a social goal. Gichuru has lived in Mozambique, Sudan and Uganda. She spoke to AFKInsider about why she chose Kenya for her business, Vivo Activewear.
Ann Brown, 4:00 am AFKI Original
With some world-class funding (Rockefeller Foundation) this Uganda-based startup accelerator encourages young African entrepreneurs to experiment and benefit from failure. “We believe in militant transparency and thus find it OK to tell the world where we have had false starts,” said co-founder Joachim Ewechu in an AFKInsider interview. “We know we are going to fail sometimes. The magic for us lies in recognizing when we have failed, understanding why and working to improve.”
Ann Brown, 7:31 pm AFKI Original
The only makeup Suzie Wokabi could find was imported and overpriced, so she started her own cosmetics company in Kenya. Wokabi trained at MAC Cosmetics in the U.S. but said she always planned to return home with experience to “build my Kenya and its beauty industry.” Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is now a fan. Wokabi spoke to AFKInsider about her most important business lessons.
Ann Brown, 1:15 am AFKI Original
There is more to Push Ismokol Clothing than just selling clothes. The co-founders behind the South African-based company, Nkululeko “Bibi” Maseko and Karidas Tshintsholo, have many more goals for their venture than being a successful clothing company. The pair wants to create “African solutions to African problems.” The strive to encourage consumers to buy African-made fabric over Chinese textiles.
Ann Brown, 12:50 pm AFKI Original
When Eugenie Nyirambonigaba was 13 she lost her parents and most of her siblings during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She went to work as a housekeeper for British expats and was exposed to spices from around the world. Her employers recognized her culinary skills and urged her to return to school. Eugenie talked to AFKInsider about being a woman in business in Rwanda.
Ann Brown, 3:21 pm AFKI Original
Samir Da Graça built his Cabo Verde clothing brand Kriolife from a hobby to a global line based on the local expression “sodade” — longing for something. Kriolife represents the culture of the Cabo Verde diaspora, Da Graça told AFKInsider. Spending most of his childhood traveling, he said he understands the longing immigrants have for their homelands. Da Graça and Kriolife are now based in Praia.
Ann Brown, 2:00 am AFKI Original
When Maite Makgoba created her African doll brand, there were already black dolls on the market. Her toy creation isn’t just a black doll — it’s a doll with South African style. Makgoba’s advice to other African businesswomen? “Formalize your businesses from get-go and target every possible funder,” she told AFKInsider. “Rejection is part of the game.”
Ann Brown, 11:53 am AFKI Original
Nigerian-born fashion designer Honey Malaolu creates luxury African designs that blend ethnic fabrics with high-end international style. Her business is based in London — second home to a growing number of ultra-rich Africans — and the brand sells globally from London and Barcelona to Dubai and Johannesburg. “This allows me to keep growing by placing my feet in two worlds,” she told AFKInsider.
Ann Brown, 10:22 am AFKI Original
Tonye Rex Idaminabo found a way to make money celebrating African excellence. A Nigerian lawyer and entrepreneur, he started the African Achievers Awards. The awards honor individuals and organizations that devote energy toward building stronger communities and improving Africa’s international profile. Africans have the solutions to their own problems at their fingertips, he said in an AFKInsider interview.