A A K S – Handcrafted Luxury Handbags with a Mix of Tradition and Modern Style

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

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Agrocenta is Giving African Farmers Pre- and Post-Harvest Autonomy

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’s solution. Source: Agrocenta website

Agrocenta

Agrocenta co-founders, Francis Obirikorang (CEO) and Michael Ocansey (CTO). (L-R). Source: Agrocenta Website

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.

Agrocenta staff and agents. Source: Agrocenta Website.

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 metric. Source: Agrocenta website.

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 creating bespoke footwears

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.

Their Mission

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.

Challenges faced

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!

The O.O brand can be reached via their social media platforms:
Website: www.olawaleonibata.com
Facebook:  Olawale Onibata
Instagram:

Savanna Chocolates, Natural Handcrafted Premium Chocolates For Your Tastebuds

Savanna Chocolates  is 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.

Products

The Savanna Chocolate Products are in different categories:

  • Chocolate Bars

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.

To place an order, simply click here to fill a form  on their website.

How Savanna Chocolates Promote Africa

Image source: Lionesses of Africa
  • The goal, according to the  website  , 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 savannacacao@gmail.com  .

KUI Care is the brand Passionate about your Natural Hair

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. Read more

Asoriba aims to put your entire church experience in your hands everyday and everywhere.

Four Ghanaians met at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST Africa), a technology incubator, and hit it off immediately. The reason; besides the fact that they are all technology enthusiasts they are passionate believers in their religion – Christianity. Each of them was also actively involved in their respective local churches.

The end product of this meeting is Asoriba, a web-based management platform for church administration. It was primarily birthed from pooling their collective experiences about the problems African churches face and trying to solve some of them with technology. Read more

HTW Shoes: High-quality, bespoke shoes from Accra to the world.

 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. Read more

Thrive Agric Connects Farmers with Enthusiasts and Investors via Technology

Thrive Agric was officially launched by Uka Eje and Ayo Arikawe in July 2017, after its beta launch towards the end of 2016.

Thrive Agric is a “technology-driven agricultural company” with a passion for growth in agriculture, putting farmers first. The idea is to get smallholder farmers who need investment to help their business thrive and then provide them with the best equipment for their farms. This includes machinery, data-driven advisory and free access to premium markets. They get the funds by crowdfunding from people who show interest in supporting agriculture. Read more

Bougee Beauty Cosmetics: a Brand with a Soul

Women all over the world are standing up to be counted in all spheres of human endeavour. Tara-Jayne Manufor is one of these women! Her line of beauty products, Bougëë Beauty Cosmetics is independent brand to watch out for! In her own words: “Bougëë Beauty Cosmetics was created as an expression for everything glamorous. All of us women like to hold ourselves as ‘bad and boujee’. I wanted to create a line that incorporates this movement.” Read more

Tobi Baby Carriers: A Brand to Beat

It is frustrating when you are looking for products and you can’t get exactly what you ‘need’. Omo Yemi Stanley-Njoku is a mum and CEO of Tobi Baby Carriers  who, being unsatisfied with the baby carriers in the local market, decided to make her own! In this interview, she gives us insight into her brand. Read more

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