In 2009, Fred Deegbe, a trendy banker and shoe enthusiast wondered if some of the shoes he often bought from European and American shoe-makers could be made in his home country – Ghana.
A nearby shoeshine boy, some of his friends and family members said that it was impossible. This did not deter Fred, however, and in two years he quit his job and partnered with a friend, Vijay Manu, to start the HEEL THE WORLD brand. He has not looked back since.
HEEL THE WORLD makes bespoke, high-end shoes and leather accessories. Based in Accra, Ghana, the company is tailored after the founder’s vision which seeks to make the equivalent of the high-end shoes that Africans patronise from European and American stores to “kick Hermes and Louis Vuitton off their perch”. In an interview with CNN, Deegbe said, “They [Africans] want their friends to ask them, ‘Where did you buy that?’ and they say, ‘No, we made it; we made it in a garage, in Accra, with our own hands” inadvertently tapping into a teeming-but-ignored market.
HEEL THE WORLD shoes are handmade and bespoke, which means that finding your size or preferred style will not be an issue. You can simply take the reins and help craft the perfect shoes for yourself – with expert help of course. From handcrafting the shoes with locally sourced materials to importing the unavailable ones, HEEL THE WORLD’S brand ethos is clearly and purposefully reflected in every shoe, combining the tenets of creativity, excellence and dynamism.
Some of the Shoes
HEEL THE WORLD is also a social enterprise. Aside from making shoes that Africans can wear and be proud of, the founders also wanted a humanitarian aspect to the brand. “We want to be a brand that lets people around the world know that there is something incredible happening in Africa”, said Deegbe in an interview with Ayibamagazine. Therefore they decided to encourage and empower young Africans by launching a consultancy angle for smaller start-ups. They also launched a line of “empowerment beads” to show the importance of hard work and its resultant success. The black beads show work or struggle, while the singular gold bead represents the reward.
The Empowerment Beads
Products and Pricing:
HEEL THE WORLD primarily makes male dress shoes: From loafers to Oxfords, to brogues and monk straps, there is something in their catalogue for you. These go for between $100 and $300 depending on your choice. Besides the primary products, they also make leather accessories like belts, slippers, sandals, wallets and purses. The prices of the accessories range from $50 to $150.
To check their catalogue and purchase a pair of shoes you can visit their website at htwshoes.bigcartel.com and order a pair, or visit the physical store, off Oxford street, Osu, Accra, Ghana.
A A K S is a handcrafted luxury handbag brand founded in 2014 by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi. It is her name that forms the acronym A A K S. The Ghanaian brand started with Akosua’s goal to introduce the world to her favorite weaving techniques! Her bags are made by local artisans in Ghana. Some of the things A A K S seeks to address include:
Detailed attention to craftsmanship, authenticity and ethical values
A strong sense of identity and quality
Creating collections that tell a different story through detail, color and shape
To give a unique A A K S stamp to every piece
About the Founder and the Inspiration Behind the Brand
Akosua Afriyie-Kumi is a Ghanaian native with a BA (Hons) Fashion degree from Kingston University London. She grew up in Ghana with a passion for art. This led her to leave Ghana to study in England to broaden her mind and gain more experience. Once finished, she returned to Ghana to support the creative industry in the country and to build a luxury African brand which led to the birth of A A K S. The drive to pursue her passion came from noticing the gap in the market for beautifully handcrafted luxury bags made with locally sourced materials.
Akosua is currently based in Ghana and occasionally travels to and throughout Europe and Africa to collaborate with other local artisans and also gain more inspiration for her brand.
In addition to designing and weaving bags, Akosua loves photography. She draws inspiration from the things she photographs whenever she travels. She also says she is inspired by the strong desire to create a unique kind of handcrafted bag. Something unique she can twist to her taste – softer, foldable and with blends of colors.
What makes A A K S Proudly African?
The A A K S products are made by local artisan weavers who sit under a baobab tree to create woven bags together while having fun. The women make these bags with raffia which is soft and creates softer and foldable bags. Raffia is a great choice, not just because it is soft, but also for its organic, natural, renewable and biodegradable nature. Raffia comes in different colors and is woven with leather. With a dedication to modern style, while incorporating handed down traditional skills, it takes about a week to make a bag. In this way each bag tells the story of the artisan who made it. There is a signature tag to every piece to guarantee authenticity.
The raffia is harvested from local farmers in Ghana, which helps to grow the economy. The brand also helps reduce the unemployment rate. They create sustainable jobs for the women who constantly weave the bags.
A A K S aims to renew some of the old traditional skills and techniques to compete with the international standard of design. This will help them be fit for the modern fashion individual!
Achievements so far:
Shortlisted as an emerging designer from Africa by Vogue Italia
Featured by Elle Decoration, Vogue, CNN Forbes Women Africa, Guardian UK and more
The woven bag collections are now in about 60 stores worldwide
The Future for A A K S
Akosua has plans to venture into clothes and print designs for her brand and also intends to explore the home interior area in the fashion industry. But before that, her plan is to build a solid foundation and make an indelible mark with her bags.
Agriculture has always been a major mainstay in Africa. From the early times when individuals practiced sole subsistence farming to the times when markets were built for the sale of agricultural produce, and of course, modern times when we desperately need farmers to plant and rear a vast majority of the food we eat. In recent times, however, agriculture in Africa has not been able to adequately plug the gaping holes that our growing population needs, hence, we have to resort to importing both agricultural produce and processed food. The implication of this is a massive reduction in the GDP of African countries and a general loss of revenue, both to the government and individuals involved in the overall process of food production.
Successive governments have tried to combat this problem by using various schemes to incentivize farming and making attractive enough for more people to come in. Ultimately, this will yield results, but one vital part is constantly left out: The link between the farmers and their markets. And this is the heart of what Agrocenta, a Ghanaian technology startup, is working actively on.
Agrocenta is a technology company focused on solving market linkage and financial inclusion problems in the agricultural value chain. It was founded by Francis Obirikorang (CEO) and Michael K. Ocansey (CTO) in 2015. Their aim was to tackle two critical areas of importance to the farmers: access to a viable and profitable market, and access to finance and credit facilities. They decided to solve these problems by leveraging on technology through three outlets which they developed: AgroInfo, AgroTrade, AgroPay, and the Truckr app.
This is how these technologies work individually and in synergy: Imagine a small farmer in rural Ghana, for example. We’ll call him Sam. Let’s say Sam has a small farm that grows beans. An Agrocenta agent approaches Sam and signs him on to the Agrocenta platforms. Within the process of farming – planting crops and tending before harvest – Sam gets updates on the weather, how the micro-climate might affect his crops or turn out and more through Agrocenta’s AgroInfo platform. Based on the information he has obtained from AgroInfo, Sam plants his crops and takes precautions and safeguards that eventually make him have a great harvest.
Before his contact with Agrocenta’s agent, Sam would usually sell his products to one middle man – who had little or no competition – from one of the major urban centers. But now, all Sam has to do is notify the agent that he has produce in stock, and his information is updated on the AgroTrade platform, which is a virtual marketplace that links farmers to potential buyers. All of a sudden, Sam has different people calling him to buy his products. He eventually sells to the highest bidder.
Agrocenta, through the Truckr app, also helps farmers get their goods to their intended destinations in a very short time. Agrocenta partnered with the Ghana Private Road Transport Union, who has a horde of commercial drivers that can help to transport farmers’ products on short notice. Sam quickly calls a transporter on the Truckr platform and in very little time, his goods are on their way to the paying customer.
If Sam needs to expand his farm, or boost productivity in a particular stage of production, by obtaining a loan from the bank, then AgroPay is the answer. Because banks would usually need to know that the farmer can pay back his loan in due time, they usually require a paper trail of the transactions that he has made through his business – the farm. Sam’s former transactions with middlemen were mostly cash-for-produce, and there was no established paper trail, except, perhaps, whenever he went to put money in the bank. With AgroPay, however, all his transactions can be re-traced and used as a verifiable history of transactions to be presented to the banks.
Agrocenta’s work is cut out for them, and they’re doing it well. Currently, over 12,000 farmers are registered on the platform and the number is growing. More than ever, Agrocenta is giving more autonomy to the African farmer – a move that helps him to make a better decision as to where, how and at what price his produce is sold. The exploitative middleman is one less problem to worry about now, which ultimately means more money in his pockets.
To find out more, you can visit the Agrocenta website at Agrocenta.com .
Olawale Onibata is an indigenous African brand providing the market with quality premium footwear that speak to individuals’ specific needs. The shoes are made in Nigeria to supply a growing market and demand!
About the company
Established in 2011, Olawale Onibata Inc. was first created out of the love of shoes. The Nigerian born Creative Director, Olawale Olukunga says, “While I was in school I found myself knowing names of different shoes everyone around me was putting on. From there it just became part of me. I started of with selling designer shoes and I did that for three years (with the nickname olawale footlocker). After school, during my NYSC period, I learnt the process of shoe-making”.
The O.O brand – as it is fondly called – is known for bespoke leather works ranging from shoes, slippers, sandals to boots and loafers. Onibata provides customized solutions for customers, taking into consideration the customers’ needs and style and matching products that meet the customer’s budget. By now they have served over a thousand customers and have established a strong supplier network to always ensure customers’ needs are met.
Making these bespoke pieces involves a lot of work, scrutiny and attention to detail. The materials come from the leather market in Lagos and its environs. It is very important to them to source locally and to satisfy a growing demand for their goods. On top of this O.O wants to be a trendsetter, creating new looks and offering people a wide variety. Currently there is a range of 12 products available. With a growing youth population this is sure to expand in the future as they aim to fill a gap in the market. “We have the best of workers. People that are ready to learn and improve and they constantly raise the bar in the area of hard work. We work from the creative director’s home for now”.
The O.O brand boasts of a good delivery process, which ensures that shoes are delivered within 2-3 working days after the order has been placed.
What’s more, they seeks to address the popular narrative that not everyone can afford genuine leather bespoke work. With as little as 8,000 Naira ($23), Onibata’s bespoke creations are affordable for a broad range of people. Other products cost between 18,000 Naira to 23,000 Naira.
Some of the biggest challenges the shoe makers face are availability of the different types of leather, logistics issues and a prompt delivery process. People tend to place orders for shoes within a day. This means the team often has to work overtime in order to meet up with such demands. They are constantly working to address these issues and offer customers the best service and products possible!
Savanna Chocolatesis a premium bean-to-bar chocolate brand based in Lusaka Zambia and founded by Chiinga Musonda and Lynn Musonda Phiri. They make chocolates that are handcrafted from local cocoa beans, without preservatives or artificial coloring and flavors.
Savanna Chocolates have a mission to:
Create African luxury artisan chocolate both at home and abroad
Change the narrative that premium chocolates are made in western countries
About the Founders
Chiinga Musonda and Lynn Musonda Phiri are sisters who, despite not having an entrepreneurial background, were able to create a premium chocolate brand born out of their love for chocolates. Chiinga has an MBA from the Havard Business School and a BA in Economics and in Computer Science from Smith College in the USA. Lynn, on the other hand, is pursuing an MBA in International Business and has a BA with honors in Business Studies with Marketing from the University of Greenwich. These two sisters have a tracked record of different previous work settings, but nothing beats the passion which drove them to produce chocolates. The pleasure they derived from eating chocolates right from childhood and also the joy on the faces of loved ones when gifted chocolates were enough to fuel their passion and kickstart the journey. Today, we have Savanna Chocolates because two sisters in love with chocolates decided to recreate the standard in Zambia.
The Savanna Chocolate Products are in different categories:
This comes in different variants including White, Milk, Coffee Milk, 70% Dark, Chilli Dark, 90% Dark, Ginger Milk, Nibs & Milk, Coffee Dark, Ginger Dark, and Pint Salt. All are priced at ZMW40, except for the White bar which is ZMW50.
Chocolate Letters, Thins and Truffles
This comes in Mini Letters (120g) which can be personalized at ZMW10 per letter. Also, in Large Letters (200g) at ZMW100 per letter. The Chocolate Thins (96g) are ZMW60 for 24 pieces and the truffles come in two variants; ZMW70 for Box of 4 and ZMW130 for Box of 8. The truffle flavors also come in different flavors to suit your cravings.
Bakers and Chocolatiers Products
This comes in different variants all at 200g:
Roasted Cacao Beans: organic at ZMW135 and natural at ZMW120
Roasted Cacao Nibs: organic at ZMW150 and natural at ZMW135
Cocoa Butter: ZMW170
Chocolate Liquor: ZMW150
Birthday, Anniversary and Kitchen Party Gift Hampers
You can order chocolates for your events in small and medium sizes.
In addition to all these, you can also rent a chocolate fountain for your events and make customized chocolates for corporate events and meetings.
The goal, according to thewebsite, is to pioneer premium quality chocolates in Africa while supporting the economy and farmers.
They buy cocoa directly from farmers to improve their income by by-passing middlemen.
They use single origin cocoa bean to help you experience real chocolate and its unique flavors. This also helps preserve the flavors of the country of origin.
Chocolates are made from natural ingredients devoid of preservatives and artificial flavors or colors.
Contact and Connect with Savanna Chocolates
Savanna Chocolate is located in Lusaka, Zambia and in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They also have their products in different stores in Zambia. You can check the website at savannachocolate.com and also connect with them via their social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter , and Instagram. Or send a mail to email@example.com.
There are different definitions to what beauty is and Majiri Otobo, the founder of Kui Care, found her definition in natural hair. It all started when she had to stop wearing hair extensions at work, as she worked in a food factory as a process engineer. She had to wear her natural hair constantly and in the long run discovered the beauty and versatility of the natural hair. But most importantly how completely underappreciated it is. This changed everything for Majiri and with the passion to aid others on their own natural-hair-journey in the African market, she birthed Kui Care. Kui started as an idea in 2013 and came to life on the 19th of August 2015.
Now, you may wonder what Kui stands for. It means Star in Ijaw, which is Majiri’s mother’s language. Her father, on the other hand, is from the Isoko tribe in Delta state, Nigeria, which makes her Isoko, too. I think it gets interesting now because we are writing about a brand from an Isoko lady on ISOKO Africa. Don’t get confused. Isoko is a tribe in Delta, Nigeria but ISOKO also means market in Swahili which is where we got our name.
About Majiri and the Kui Care Brand
Majiri studied Chemical Engineering while in school and identifies herself as a south-south girl who grew up in Lagos. She manages Kui Care, which is a personal care brand passionate about bringing out the star in you.
Here is what Majiri has to say about Kui Care: “Kui’s vision is to change the fabric of our society, to make products that are inspirational, aspirational, trusted and valued. To focus on our results being above and beyond expectations while maintaining honesty and an openness of our limitations. To control the integrity of our identity while building on the ideals of self-growth, love and appreciation”.
Kui Care has less than 10 people as their core team, most of which work in Onikan, Lagos, apart from the manufacturing site. They focus on the day to day business; from customer service to sales, marketing, accounting and logistics. There are also supporting staff for sales on a commission basis.
Who is Kui Care for?
Kui Care has Nigeria as a target audience, with the aim to grow and sell to the globe. Narrowing it down, Majiri says that she targets university students, office/shop workers and other people who are likely to appreciate natural hair products. Kui Care is for the person who wants to feel their hair come to life and be glad that they have discovered a local product they believe in.
Products and Packaging
Kui Care gets their raw materials from a number of countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa – specifically Nigeria.
Kui’s first products are the Tea Tree & Cinnamon range which consist of:
KUI Tea Tree & Cinnamon Moisturizing Shampoo; N1,500
KUI Tea Tree & Cinnamon Moisturizing Conditioner; N1,500
KUI Tea Tree & Cinnamon Moisturizing Leave-in Hair Mist; N1,200
KUI Tea Tree and Cinnamon Moisturizing Hair Cream; N1,000
You can get these four as a set at an RRP between N5000 and N6000. The products are sold in approximately 160 stores in Lagos and can be delivered worldwide via dressmeoutlet.com. They also have other major distributors like the SPAR supermarket, GAME, Hubmart, MedPlus among others. You can see more of their distributors on www.kuicare.com/stockists.
Here are a few things to know about Kui’s Tea Tree & Cinnamon range:
Made to be the building blocks of soft, long and healthy natural hair
Designed to add maximum moisture to the hair strands while conditioning them
Consisting of antibacterial Tea Tree Oil which helps to fight against dandruff and Cinnamon which aids hair growth
The hair cream contains cold-pressed Shea butter, which benefits the hair greatly
The leave-in mist contains Aloe Vera for added benefit
The products come with the green feel, with the teal of the label representing the sea and the cap of the conditioner representing the sun with its yellow colour. Kui Care products are packaged with the intention of conveying a good global standard quality product, yet not looking overtly exorbitant. They make this happen by working with the right manufacturers who care about and can produce a consistently high level of quality packaging.
Majiri opens up to us on how the exchange rate affects the pricing of the Kui Care products. This is because some of the raw materials are imported, as they are not readily available locally. It also affects the packaging, as the plastic manufacturers have to increase their prices since the raw materials used are imported. Regardless, Majiri still tries to buy other products available locally, like the Shea Butter used in the hair cream.
How Kui Care Contributes to the Growth of Africa
After Majiri started her natural hair journey, she noticed that there were not enough quality products designed for natural hair that are affordable to the African community. So she decided to produce a product of international standards and quality at a reasonably affordable price that would help pamper your hair. This encourages more people in Africa to grow their natural hair and take care of it in the best way – without having to break the bank.
Kui Care is produced in Nigeria thus helping to create local jobs which in turn helps the economy and adds value to the currency.
Majiri sees Kui Care in the nearest future as an established household brand in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. They intend to do this by increasing awareness and by producing more products for hair and also the body. The hope is to become a company their customers will be excited to buy from and tell their friends about.
Kui Care isn’t stopping anytime soon, as they constantly promote their products via the use of social media. They also constantly share reviews of their products from customers on their social media platforms, which has yielded positive results. And on offline awareness, they make use of BRT advertising and any other means to ensure people get to know about them.