Ways to refashioning the future of African fashion from an expert.

Ways to refashioning the future of African fashion from an expert.
Leanne is the founder of the platform called Refashionafrica which is dedicated to African Fashion. It serves as a fashionable eye on urban Africa and its various styles.

 

Could you please tell me about your background? 
I have a commercial, marketing and branding background. Prior to founding Refashion Africa I also had my own marketing and sponsorship agency.
Do you really think the African continent is ready for a Vogue Africa? If so why?
I do think it’s time. As I tried to lay out in my article for the “Business of Fashion” website,  we have proven long term economic growth with future prospects, a vibrant fashion eco-system which still has its challenges but I feel must be represented in an authentic way. We have an affluent class and a growing consumer class which will be driving the new modern African narrative. We are more inter-connected than ever before and already have luxury brands present on the continent.
African Vogue could have been the unity element between all the african nations, do you think this may be why, the western media has not given it a chance yet?
I am not sure about that. But what I know is this, this is about us, in Africa. We are a force and the African Renaissance is underway. We must continue to make our own tables and take our place on the global stage.
With South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana leading the fashion industry on the continent, how do you imagine the infrastructure of an African Vogue?
I imagine that the engine driving Vogue Africa will be the best creatives, digital, commercial, communications, publishing, etc… African talent, in other words a collective effort to create a narrative that reflects what is happening inside the continent from major fashion cities to capture the African Zeitgeist and elevate our stories. We need an attitude of openness and willingness from many parties not fingering strong leadership.
You are a very successful writer, what is your opinion about diversity and how social media is helping break barriers globally in the beauty industry? Can the fashion industry follow?
There is continuous pressure for things to change. In the new world diversity is key. The world is in a state of continuous flux and more change is coming. Technological change is a major force shapeshifting the future, and in Africa we have a very high adoption rate for example of mobile technology. Expect new conversations, new ideas, to go beyond what was once thought impossible.
What is the next step for African fashion if this magazine doesn’t not happen in the next 3 years?
African fashion is not dependent on a Vogue Africa happening or not. It will continue from strength to strength, no doubt. We are a force to be reckoned with and Vogue Africa shouldn’t feel like this far fetched idea.
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This is why Africans are rejecting the idea of a Vogue Africa!

This is why Africans are rejecting the idea of a Vogue Africa!

The past 2 weeks have seen the trending subject of a “Vogue Africa” to finally come to life. Naomi Campbell has sparked a lot of discussions recently around the subject after her trip to Lagos, Nigeria for Arise Fashion Week.

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But, I have not heard one person of African descent actually thinking this is a good idea. It seems like we are once again trying to get some kind of approval from the western media and really there’s no need anymore. We know that Vogue is not interested in the African continent so why force it?

“There should be a Vogue Africa.” “We just had Vogue Arabia — it is the next progression. It has to be.” “Africa has never had the opportunity to be out there and their fabrics and their materials and their designs be accepted on the global platform… it shouldn’t be that way.” Naomi Campbell

I am very much confused by her statement about African Fashion and our fabrics|materials not being”out there”! Do we not see the same images online? African fashion, wax, ankara, from America to Europe, African culture is everywhere!

And thanks to Black Panther, Africans are bolder  than ever before.

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An African inspired editorial in Brazil

They are so many publications by Africans, bringing lights on African cultures, arts, personalities, travel such as New African Woman, Zen Magazine, Fashizblack.

Do we really want another western influence on Africa’s mind? Thats the question some asked.

The continent is working hard to push the boundaries in the fashion industry, via its own merits, and create its own vibes and personally. I feel like it will be very difficult to create an infrastructure around an African Vogue, simply because of the various cultures that we have and the complexity of the market as an all.

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African women have always been strong and determined to get things done on their own terms.  Diversity talks are growing through social media and the global press,  this is surely shaking the beauty industry like never before. Things are happening and it should have been Vogue magazine asking Africans their thoughts on this potential venture.

I think many are upset as this feels like we are begging for the chance to prove that Africa can do it too. To make this work, Vogue would need time to study the African market because really there will need to have several versions of the magazine to fit the diversity of our continent.

I do love Naomi, as she is the role model we all look up to. But I feel someone like Iman who invested more into bringing value to women of colour by creating products and engaging with the community, would be a better ambassador for a Vogue Africa.

Naomi’s business sense could definitely lead an edition. I actually thought by coming to Africa, she would have perhaps done an African version of her show The face. This would definitely be a success given the minority of black models still in the global market.

In 2010, Paris based photographer Mario Epanya created series of fictional ” Vogue Africa ” covers, which unfortunately were not enough to convince the mainstream media that Africa was ready to join the elite publication.His work is certainly noticed now as it has been used in every recent articles talking about the Vogue Africa subject.

This trending subject needs to teach us that we need to stop chasing this nonsense approval. Africans can represent their own cultures. What we need is for our governments to invest in the arts and cultures sector. We need to keep standing on our own feet and lead our way.

This is the reason why we launched ESIMBI Magazine, to be able to tell our own stories truthfully. Africa’s time is now but that way needs to be led by our own communities.

If Vogue ever decide to do an African version, we would simply ask that they do their best to represent us as we are and not as they want us to be.

 

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How to be the Female Game Changer for Congo?

How to be the Female Game Changer for Congo?

 

The 2018 theme for International Women’s Day was #pressforprogress, with a focus on women’s equality in terms of financial inclusion.

“Gender parity won’t happen overnight. And sources cite that women’s equality is still a long way off. But the good news is that across the world, women are making positive gains, day by day. And there’s a strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.”  – International Women’s Day website

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ESIMBI magazine hosted its first Women in business seminar in London last week.

The room was filled with men and women who were prepared to hear and understand the struggles that women go through but also their successes.

Ika De Jong hailing from Belgium, told her story on how she created a platform as a presenter. A name now known by Congolese people globally.

Noëlla Coursaris spoke (and joked) about her career as a model. But stayed serious with regards to matters close to her heart, the Malaika foundation which supports girls education in DRC. Ten years ago, they build a school that offers free education to all the pupils enrolled.

Yolande Letshou, fashion and branding professional. A relentless woman that has a unique story to tell and who has clients all over the world, spoke of her journey as an artist and business woman.

Tina lobondi founder of ESIMBI said that Congolese entrepreneurs need more help and support, from each other and organisations that work in Congo.

Our guest speaker Lu Li spoke of her great platform, Blooming Founders, the UK’s largest female entrepreneur network.

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Each story, each message sparked discussions that are needed in the Congolese community surrounding Congolese women and entrepreneurship. The event, which was meant to be a one off event, will now take place every year and invite Congolese entrepreneurs, businesses and investors to be a part of the discussion.

It is well known that unbiased access to education and financial services are important in playing a pivotal role in reducing the vulnerability of poor people. In many African countries, however, more than two-thirds of the adult population have no access to formal financial services.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, financial exclusion is as high as 76%. Additionally, exclusion is highest among women, young adults and the very poorest segments of society. Financial inclusion can advance equality for women in many ways.

  1. Having access to resources and to the tools that help them to earn a living, can increase women’s bargaining power on how money and other resources are used within the household.
  2. Financial inclusion can help increase women’s opportunities to earn or control assets outside the household.
  3. Thirdly, it can reduce women’s vulnerability by allowing them to insure against risk or borrow to meet unexpected expenses, such as medical treatments.

These are all key factors for economic empowerment. Financial literacy allows women and their families to understand how the accumulation of assets can aid in achieving their financial goals.

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Our event was not only to celebrate the many roles and positions Congolese women have in society and in the workplace but also show how financial independence helps them make decisions for their careers households and children.

  • To stimulate debate and build knowledge on financial inclusion.
  • To identify entry points for advancing the role of women in Congo.
  • To expand the network of champions and advocates of gender equality in Congo.

The challenge for women’s day 2018 was to make our mothers proud/ using our mothers as example, to have our sisters inspired/empowered, and our daughters envisioned. Congolese women have made great strides in equality yet there is still a great deal to be achieved. The International Women’s Day provided a unique and global opportunity to reignite, inspire and channel Congolese women’s equality for the future.

we aim to recognise and celebrate the valuable contribution Congolese women make in several different industries at our International Women’s Day function. The event brought together professionals from across the areas of construction, engineering, project management and design to celebrate their achievements as part of the 2018 International Women’s Day.

Topics of discussion included:

  • How can women best support one another?
  • Why International Women’s Day is important to me? Why am I here?
  • Who are the women that have had the greatest Impact on your life, and why?
  • What most concerns you related to women’s issues looking forward?
  • What do you want most for the women of tomorrow?
  • What would you try if you knew you could not fail?
  • How do I find direction, fulfilment and purpose in my life?
  • How to strive for, achieve, and maintain balance in our lives?
  • What needs to happen for women to reach equality?
  • How do you think Congo will benefit from a more inclusive society?

It was amazing to share that day with so many inspirational women. I definitely agree that more dialogues are necessary but, Education and Action are the key to progressing towards change. I look forward to taking part in the next event.

The below event will be attending by over 500 business women and I will be there too. If you would like to join us, use my code to get £175 Off the rate week, simply click here to book your ticket.

 

 

Is accidental entrepreneurship a real thing in Congo?

Is accidental entrepreneurship a real thing in Congo?

Although being the richest country in terms of natural resources, people in Republic Democratic of Congo live on under $5 per day.

Despite these challenges, they tend to come up with new ideas to generate revenue to live adequately. Last year Harvard business review wrote an article about why African entrepreneurship is booming. If there is real growth in Africa and there is to be predicted growth in Congo, why isn’t entrepreneurship valued?

These entrepreneurial activities can have a huge impact on the economy of Congo as well as the quality of life of the population in the form of employment. However, an important factor is the missing legislations, training and investment in entrepreneurs. This fact makes business development and business growth stagnant.

Entrepreneurial forces are relatively strong in Congo, as most people become accidental entrepreneurs based on necessity due to the poor economic situation. However, we have failed to realise that entrepreneurship development is the foundation of all economic evolution in any nation.

I took the below pictures on my last trip to Kinshasa with Gaelle who works with me on my social initiative ESIMBI. I wanted to share them as they completely represent how street businesses are the force that sustains the neglected Congolese population but shows their strength and resilience.

 

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Entrepreneurial challenges in Congo

  • The country’s economic has been declining since the 1990’s and its instability have made Congo an unsuccessful place for entrepreneurial capital investment.
  • The lack of adequate electricity, basic internet, which is a must in the business climate, stifle entrepreneurial activities.
  • Female entrepreneurs, are often underestimated and overlooked because of cultural barriers labelling women inherently inferior to men.

 

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The prospect of entrepreneurship in Congo

  • Economic Development: the development of entrepreneurs will increase the National gross domestic product.
  • Reduction in unemployment: entrepreneurship encourages and increases the creation of employment in Congo which contributes the country’s development.
  • Improved way of life: encouraging entrepreneurship development will go a long way to improve the standard of living of the country’s population through innovations.

 

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To fully encourage the development of entrepreneurs in Congo, we need to prioritise education, investment and continuous development. Not only in the entrepreneurs but also the industries that they are working in, this will generate a surge of potential from everyone in the country to see and recognise that they have the ability to change their live and that of others through business, mentorship, and apprenticeship.

 

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