Ladybrille® Blogazine


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What is the Best African Country to Do Fashion Business?

Q. "Hi! I love your site! I go to your site to know whats going on in Africa and fashion! I am working on a project trying to get new designers from the US to produce handmade fashion accessories in Africa. People keep asking me where I want to focus my efforts and frankly I'm not sure. I am African-American and I have never been to Africa but speak French so I first thought to try West Africa. But I do know even speaking English there are language and cultural barriers. There are many exporters and artisans who I could partner with whichever country I choose. I also heard that South Africa is up and coming in global fashion.

I know too that Kenya/Uganda have a good scene. I have friends from each of those countries and [they]say for me to pick the one I have 'real love' for. The problem is, I have love for all. I thought to base my decision on trends and potential growth one industry has over another. So with that, do you happen to have any thoughts or direction you could lead me in? Thanks so much!"~Tyese, Northern California.

A. Hi Tyese! I am delighted you love our site. Thank you for being a loyal reader! I think your friends are right when they say "pick the one you have 'real love' for." I also think from a business angle, you are wise to base your decisions on trends and potential growth. All of the countries you mention are indeed good and viable options when it comes to fashion. Also, Senegal is not a bad idea especially since you speak French and Ghana is definitely a wonderful option. My advice would be to pick an African country you love, research thoroughly and understand the trends and potential growth; and once you are successful in establishing your business in that country, then you can expand into other African countries. Remember to look before you leap by researching carefully the market you are trying to get into.
I would also look to see if there are any African-American groups that have successfully done business in Africa, especially in the fashion realm. One resource is Dr. Bill Releford's "Made in Africa" company. I would contact them.

For your African friends, I would ask to visit their countries with them when next they visit. This way, they get to be your tour guide and break you into the customs and traditions to help break the cultural barriers you are concerned about. Once in these African countries, look for the presence or lack of infrastructure, governmental support of businesses, especially foreign investments and be sure to investigate import/export issues and complications associated with it so you can make an informed decision. I hope the above helps.
Good luck!


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