chowberry shangani fashions liberty and justice selly raby kane ABACUS EDGE POINT ENTERTAINMENT THE EDITORIAL TEAM
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Chowberry Founder: Oscar Ekponimo Country: Nigeria
Many start-up founders often begin with grand-scale ambitions of disrupting an industry and establishing a new world order, but Oscar Ekponimo started his Chowberry app to ensure that fewer people would go to bed hungry, like he did as a child. Growing up, Ekponimo, a software engineer, often lived on one meal every two days. To solve that problem for some of the estimated 13 million Nigerians who suffer hunger every day, Ekponimo’s Chowberry app helps grocery stores manage their food inventory, and alerts them when items are close to their expiry dates. In turn, the grocery stores offer those items at discounts of “up to 75%” to customers, usually welfare and aid agencies, through the app. These organizations then distribute the food to orphanages and low-income households. Chowberry charges retailers a fee for managing their inventory. Currently operating in Lagos and Abuja, Ekponimo hopes the app will reach up to 100,000 households in three years. Crucially, plans are also underway to partner with aid agencies to get food to thousands of internally displaced people in northeastern Nigeria where malnutrition and hunger are rife.
Where AFRICAN FASHION Meets the stylish traveler
Shangani Fashion’s debut presentation during New York Fashion Week conveys contemporary cuts that are accented with vintage accessories. Shangani Fashion Designs are a juxtaposition of culture and style. Shangani is an African tribe who dwelled near the Shangani River in Zimbabwe, Africa. The tribe was named after its founder; and the name “Shoshangani” means traveler. Shangani Fashion is a brand inspired by the experience of travel and the exposure of different cultures. Creations by Shangani’s Designers merge their travel experiences with colorful ethnic prints, and contemporary shapes to create a high fashion, ready-to-wear look. Traditional African fabrics with a modern mix, is the passion behind Shangani Fashions. The design duo collaborating on the aesthetics is Fashion Designers Mary Moore and Elesia Peterman. Moore is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe and a world traveler. “My inspirations are fusions of my cultural, travel experiences and my Zimbabwean heritage and styles. Shoppers will find divers influences from the Caribbean, European and Middle-Eastern expressions in my fashions. I enjoy mixing various African influences with a contemporary cut and shape for a modernized look. And the result is a ready-to-wear brand that is suitable for all occasions” explains Mary Moore.
“My creative inspiration comes from a fusion of time, epoch periods and cultures, while remaining Afrocentric. States Elesia Peterman. “I want our line to show that African print transcends. The looks can be worn strictly as traditional wear, but the looks can also be incorporated in business and everyday casual use. What makes our line unique is that it isn’t just an African meets Western cohesion. Our goal is to reach and inspire a much bigger market. Our line is an international fusion. Also, being a millennial, I feel I can relate with the style trends my peers are excited about.. I want to use clothing design as my voice and demonstration of creativity.”
Shangani offers looks for both men and women, and intends to expand the menswear line for upcoming seasons. The garments are wearable for business casual or as formal wear. Depending on the type of garment design, the brand uses one-hundred percent cotton, applied with Dutch Wax print, Denim and other uniquely blended materials of the finest quality. Completing the Afro-inspired look, the Shangani brand also features handcrafted travel handbags and clutch bags. Accessories such as earrings, bracelets and shoes, add a hint of sophistication to an individual’s look.
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Liberty & Justice Founder: Chid Liberty Country: Liberia
Chid Liberty was born in Liberia but left the country as an infant with his family when his father was appointed as Liberia’s ambassador to Germany. Subsequent civil wars in Liberia prevented the family from moving back, and they eventually settled in the United States. The work of Leymah Gbowee, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner who led a women’s peace crusade that helped end the second Liberian civil war, inspired him to establish Liberty & Justice (L&J). In 2009, at 30 years old, he raised about $3 million in start-up funding from US foundations and private investors to establish a Fair Trade Certified garment factory in Liberia. The enterprise provides work and education opportunities for Liberian women vulnerable to unemployment and economic exclusion following the war, which ended in 2003.
His co-founder, Adam Butlein, has been essential to the enterprise. In the early stages, Butlein helped secure much-needed venture philanthropy funding to sustain the start-up, contributing to its success—and the success of the women involved. L&J now supplies clothes and handbags to major American retailers like Prana and Haggar. Its new clothing label, Uniform, launched last year, provides a Liberian child with a school uniform (paywall) for every item sold. L&J’s latest initiative, Made in Africa (MIA) is a network of ethical factories clustered in Ghana, Liberia and Benin. It looks to establish seven additional fair trade apparel factories in Liberia and Ghana and expand elsewhere on the continent.
Selly Raby Kane
Occupation: Fashion designer, Multi-disciplinarian Country: Senegal
Occupying the intersection between fashion, art, and technology, Selly Rabe Kane believes in the power of the story behind clothes, where collaboration can be as key as design. 2017 is already proving to be a whirlwind year for Kane. She served as guest creative director for the Design Indaba, transforming spaces at the design conference into magical, interactive dreamscapes, was recruited by Ikea to contribute to an Africa-inspired collection, and debuted a 360° film at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
Kane was born and raised in Dakar, and studied fashion business in Paris. Her colourful, eclectic designs, which have been known to feature unique materials like fake hair, are beloved by magazine stylists and artists like Beyoncé. As co-founder of the multidisciplinary collective Les Petite Pierres, she’s collaborated with other artists on film, music, performances, and events. “‘It’s a fascinating time to be on the continent, and a critical time to bring change into the stories told to depict it,” Kane said recently. “I see myself contributing to the rebranding of Senegal and the continent by generating niche content.”
Founder: Joel Macharia Country: Kenya
Joel Macharia is the CEO and founder of Abacus, a Kenya-based online investment brokerage that aims to open “pan-Africa markets to pan-African investors.” Macharia, who began investing in stocks in high school, started Abacus with the goal of making the process easier. Through Abacus, investors can set up an account, transfer money, and get news and updates in one place online. The company is working on expanding its reach beyond Kenya to Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Egypt over the next 12 months. Abacus is targeting not just investors in Kenya, but the Kenyan diaspora, which sends as much as $3 billion back to Kenya every year, more than what the country receives in foreign direct investment. “There’s a lot of money outside looking for places to go,” says Macharia. Today, Abacus has more than 7,000 users on the platform and hosts classes in Nairobi on investing. Macharia is also the founder of PesaTalk, which became the largest consumer financial news business news site in Kenya. He has worked in mobile banking for Barclays and Standard Chartered, and was the head of product development for the mobile money team at Cellulant, a digital payments company in Kenya.
EdgePoint Founder: Lilian Makoi Country: Tanzania
The uptake of insurance products across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa is nothing to write home about. In a country like Tanzania with 50 million people, for instance, insurance penetration is at about 1%. High poverty rates make insurance products not only unaffordable to those at the bottom of the pyramid but also commercially unattractive to underwriters. This means households often struggle to meet their basic healthcare needs. This state of affairs so troubled digital technology entrepreneur Lilian Makoi that she developed Jamii, a micro-health insurance product targeting low-income earners. She knew that selling insurance to this category of people, even for just $1 per month, was a tough undertaking. But this did not dampen her spirit. Mainstream insurance players often cite high administrative costs, mostly relating to registration and provision of cards, as hindrances to covering the poor. Doing these procedures through mobile phones would eliminate a lot of these costs. Jamii has partnered with Jubilee Insurance to provide this service, using Vodacom’s mobile money platform to collect insurance premiums and pay medical facilities. “Accessing medical services from private clinics was a dream to most of our customers,” Makoi tells Quartz. “But, some women get to experience hospital birth for the first time because of Jamii.” Educating Jamii’s target market about the need to take up insurance isn’t easy, a challenge faced by all African micro-insurers. At the moment, 10,000 people have signed up to the product. Makoi hopes to reach 100,000 users by 2018, with a goal of 3 million across Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa over the next five years.
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