Where Can I Buy African High Fashion?

Africa’s fashion industry has the potential to be massive and you should pay attention to it.

When I found out that Akin Adebowale, Kolade Adeyemo, Bobby Pittman, and the rest of the team were building Oxosi, I couldn’t wait to see what they would come up with.

Oxosi is an e-commerce platform that brings African high fashion to the US. Place your orders! Parts of African fashion have impacted taste in the West for a long time. It is good to see the creators of African fashion get credit for their genius through platforms like this.

The team has raised a good bit of money to start off and if their bet on the appeal of African high fashion in the US hits, Naspers and Tiger Global, two of the biggest investors in e-commerce out there, should pay attention.

Kudos to the Oxosi team. Here’s to, in the words of Paul Judge, building something from nothing.

 

No. 14: 3 Wednesday AM Reads You Should Have Gotten Tuesday

  1. This piece on Jack Dorsey being named as CEO of Twitter while keeping the CEO reins at Square is pretty poor. How do you give recent examples of folks successfully running multiple companies without discussing what is enabling them to get this done? Yet, you reach back to 1990 to pull out a worst case situation, mention that Elon Musk and Carlos Ghosn say running two companies is hard and one should avoid it, and conclude that Jack isn’t listen to the right advice. The piece should have progressed something like: 1) This is a bad case from years ago. 2) Here are some more recent cases and reasons why they avoided the bad case from years ago. 3) This is really hard and not advisable for most. Since Jack is going forward with this, this is what he should consider.

  2. Growing up, my dad often talked about the unappreciated genius of artisans in Ghana. Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Bobby Pittman, among others have touted the huge potential of the creative industry across Africa. This piece discusses the Rwanda government’s efforts to invest in its creative industry with the help of the Swedes. In the mean time, check out Oxosi – a startup bringing high-end African fashion to the US. It should be launching soon.

  3. Here’s some interesting analysis of greenfield investments in Africa still being led by the western countries. On the other side of Africa-bound FDI, here is an interesting report from the Financial Times’ Africa Summit on how African countries will deal with depressed currencies, China’s slowing, and falling commodity prices (I saw $1.90 gas the other day, and my heart fluttered).

Build Something From Nothing

Paul Judge has a mantra – build something from nothing. It’s amazing to watch folks I have met along the way live this out.

Jehiel Oliver’s startup Hello Tractor was profiled in Fast Company today. It wasn’t too long ago when we sat down at Chinatown Coffee and he told me about this idea he was working on. At the time, the concept of using technology to lower the cost of mechanization for small-scale farmers made a lot of sense. He’s raised a couple million dollars to prove out this idea. If Jehiel is right, Hello Tractor is going to catalyze the productivity of a whole lot of farmers across Africa. McKinsey will owe him thanks for making their projection that the continent’s agricultural productivity could reach $880 billion by 2040 look right. As an aside, I hope the continent can generate a lot more productivity than that. I really don’t want to be eating Soylent.

Several years ago, my friend Odini Nwakuche told me that he was going to make ties. As an aspiring dandy, I was super excited about the idea, but could not have imagined where Odini and his partner Josh Moore have taken Res Ipsa.  Some time after Odini told me that they were going to try and make shoes. Res Ipsa now has its shoes in several stores in the southeast and they are just beginning. This weekend, I got to hang out with Josh and Odini (pictured above) as they manned their booth for the MRket New York Show, one of the premier menswear trade shows. Everyone from the convention center set-up staff to fellow exhibitors to buyers were checking out their booth. I found myself grinning ear-to-ear with pride at what Odini and Josh have built and look forward to watching them make their mark in menswear.

Several months ago, Angelina Darrisaw mentioned that she was considering stepping out on her own after distinguishing herself in stints at ESPN and Viacom. I was thrilled to get a LinkedIn notification not long ago indicating that she was Founder of C-Suite Coach. Over the years, I watched Angelina go outside of her comfort zone – joining the track team at Davidson, reach the finals twice in the Miss New York USA. Now, she is stretching herself again as she helps underprivileged millennials achieve professional success.

My brother, Kwadwo, is a builder. As kids, this man lived at Michael’s, convincing my parents to buy items for him to try out different ideas. To this day, he continues to build things – a carbonated juice company. A production company. SapidMedia Productions, has been a labor of love for several years now and he is scratching the surface. He landed his first corporate client and released a short film in the first six months of this year. Look out for more cool stuff from him this year, and the next, and the next.

That goes for all the people listed here. This list could be much longer – Cherae Robinson, Eric Osiakwan, Maame Boakye, Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena, Nina Oduro, Eric Guichard, KJ Blackwell, Billy Fennebresque, Robert Long, Whitney White, Bobby Pittman, my dad.

Who else? Who are some people you know building something from nothing?

Why Akinwumi Adesina Won the African Development Bank Presidency

Bobby Pittman, head of Kupanda Capital, did a nice interview with the Center for Global Development where he serves as a board member alongside the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Lawrence Summers. He highlights the reasons Dr. Adesina won the AfDB presidency, and some things on which he will have to focus. Three points that stood out are:

  1. The AfDB picked a lot of low-hanging fruit in developing the private sector on the continent. Now that the private sector has advanced significantly, a lot of thought has to go into how to most effectively catalyze the private sector. Dr. Adesina has the track record and skill set to take the development of the private sector to the next level. 
  2. The AfDB’s focus on areas like the private sector, infrastructure, and regional development, in comparison with other development banks has contributed to its success. Maintaining that focus will continue to position the AfDB for success. 
  3. There are a lot of voices that could be part of the AfDB’s conversation, but are not currently. Work has to be done to incorporate their viewpoints into the AfDB’s work. 

I am excited about Dr. Adesina taking the reins at the AfDB and look forward to seeing the bank continue to do good work on the continent. 

My A-Listers For Africa – Business and Policy

For quite some time, I have wanted to distill my sources for information and analysis on business and policy across Africa. I will try to keep this post updated with a list of the people I follow for insights. Some post long-form content. Some stick to Twitter. Here goes:

Razia Khan – Head of Macro Research for Standard Chartered Bank. When big economic events happen on the continent, I automatically go to her Twitter feed to see what she thinks about them.

Chuba Ezekwesili – Has good insights on Nigeria’s economics.

Jason Njoku – One of the more outspoken entrepreneurs on the continent when it comes to making sense of building a business on the continent.

Ory Okolloh Mwangi – Keeps me hip to Kenya’s political environment. Look out for her waving her BS flag.

Chris Becker – Lead Economist at African Alliance. African Alliance always put out helpful intelligence on what’s happening across the continent. Chris will occasionally send out a post from his personal blog.

Eliot Pence – Director at McLarty & Associates. Publishes sharp insights on US-Africa policy.

Aubrey Hruby – Visiting Fellow at The Atlantic Council. She and Jake Bright are coming out with a book this year, I believe, on Africa’s business environment.

Brian Laung Aoeh – Partner at KEC Ventures. Most of his portfolio is US and Israel-focused, but he pays a lot of attention to the technology space in Africa.

Patrice Backer – COO at AFIG Funds. Posts frank insights on business and political events across the continent.

Eric-Vincent Guichard – Founder of Homestrings.com. Whenever foreign direct investment comes up in the news, I go to see what Eric is saying about it.

Bobby Pittman – Founder of Kupanda Capital. Like following his posts because of his background working in the US government and at the African Development Bank and when I’m looking for insights on infrastructure development on the continent.

Rolake Akinkugbe – Runs Energy and Natural Resources desk at FBN Capital. Doesn’t post a lot of content, but does make frequent appearances on CNBC Africa.

Todd Moss – As news of the attempted coup in Gambia emerged, I read it all through the lens of the Golden Hour, Todd’s first novel. In his day job, he runs the Center for Global Development.

Jake Bright – Whitehead Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. Writes for FT This is Africa, Bloomberg, and Quartz to name a few. He has basically carried the Africa standard at Bloomberg Radio, educating the listening audience on Africa’s bond markets, infrastructure development, technology sector and more. Check out the link to The Next Africa, the book he and Aubrey Hruby have coming out soon.

Ibrahim Saigna – Runs Century Private Investments. He doesn’t publish a lot, but he provides helpful insights on Africa’s finance environment when he does.

Jacqueline Musiitwa – Legal Counsel and Assistant to the President at PTA Bank. She and Ibrahim have collaborated on some good pieces.

Kurt Davis, Jr. – Investment banker at Barclays. Writes sharp insights on a number of industries and the political environment on the continent.

Paul Wallace – Reporter at Bloomberg. Consistently good analysis.

Aly-Khan Satchu – Operates on a 26-hour day. That’s the only way I have been able to make sense of how productive he is.