The in­ter­net has rev­o­lu­tionised busi­ness,al­low­ing nicheAfrican brands to reach global con­sumers

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - News -

The rise of the mid­dle class across the con­ti­nent; the fact that Africa is home to sev­eral of the fastest­grow­ing economies in the world; the emer­gence and pop­u­lar­ity of large lux­ury fash­ion malls; and the in­creas­ing global in­ter­est in African prod­ucts, from home­ware and fur­ni­ture, to beauty and cloth­ing, means bur­geon­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­de­pen­dent de­sign­ers. And with pro­duc­tion costs ris­ing in China, African coun­tries have a real op­por­tu­nity to seize man­u­fac­tur­ing cus­tomers by of­fer­ing com­pet­i­tive labour and man­u­fac­tur­ing costs to global brands.

“I’m hear­ing whis­pers about Ethiopia,” says Loin­cloth and Ashes founder Anissa Mpungwe, who is based in South Africa (see case study, page 40).“From a man­u­fac­tur­ing per­spec­tive, Ethiopian com­pa­nies have a lot of sup­port from gov­ern­ment. Also, Kenya is a hub for man­u­fac­tur­ing. One of the com­pa­nies we’re in talks with is Soko Kenya – they man­u­fac­ture for ASOS and Vivi­enne West­wood.”

Mpungwe, who founded Loin­cloth and Ashes in 2008 with a sewing ma­chine, now em­ploys a team of pat­tern cut­ters and seam­stresses, runs a stu­dio in Pre­to­ria, and sells on­line to cus­tomers in Europe as well as Africa. The in­ter­net, she says, has rev­o­lu­tionised busi­ness for de­sign­ers like her, break­ing open tra­di­tional sales meth­ods and al­low­ing niche African brands to reach global con­sumers.

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