West African brands and businesses are increasingly becoming a force to reckon with. As they continue to grow and reach a global audience, the impact they are making is becoming more and more evident.
From food to fashion and everything else in-between, these brands are using their passion to proudly showcase Africa to the world, and the world is paying attention.
In this article, we look at four Nigerian brands paving the way and making global waves with their ideas, products and businesses.
Bino and Fino – Children’s TV/Education
Bino and Fino is a children’s cartoon program like you’ve probably never seen before. Hailed as Africa’s ‘Dora the Explorer’ this ground-breaking show aims to teach children about African history and culture, the show celebrates Africa and all that is wonderful about it. It is also an excellent learning tool especially for young people in the diaspora where shows like this do not exist.
“On a global scale, I realised that there really wasn’t any children’s programming that catered to black children or children of African descent whether they were in America, Europe, Asia or South America. I wanted to create an inclusive show that taught kids about the real Africa” Adamu Waziri.
Created in 2007 by Nigerian animator, Adamu Waziri, the idea came to him when he noticed that there was literally no positive, educational or truthful African representation for children on television, this notion was worrying to him and led to the creation of Bino and Fino with the hopes that it would help rectify the imbalance.
Produced in Abuja, Nigeria, at the EVCL Studios, Bino and Fino are garnering the world’s attention with features from major media groups such as Huffington Post and CNN, and working with organisations like BBC Africa and so much more.
Parents and educators can also purchase dolls, DVDs and other learning paraphernalia to help with the enlightenment and representation for children.
The creators are now planning to create a Brazilian version, with it currently being utilised as a learning tool in schools in parts of the US.
“There is a great need in Brazil from parents and kids. We hope to fill the void there in the same way that we are doing in other countries. Hopefully, we will get to a place in our global society where no children – no matter their background, will feel invisible.” Waziri.
Tiffany Amber – Fashion
Tiffany Amber was established in 1998 by Nigerian fashion designer Folake Folarin-Coker.
Folarin-Coker had plans to become a lawyer and has a Master’s in Petroleum Law, but her passion for fashion and styling steered her towards the fashion arena. Her stems both from her West African roots and her formative years schooling in Europe (Scotland, Switzerland and England).
Tiffany Amber is now one of Africa’s leading fashion companies, but it’s also well-established all over the world.
“This is a very difficult business to do. Before now, people believe women should stay indoors and make dresses. Now we have multinational companies investing in the business; every street now has tailors working. It’s one of the biggest mainstays of world economy.” Folarin-Coker.
This Nigerian established ready to wear fashion house is revolutionising the African fashion industry and is now making the same pioneering waves over the world, she is the first African fashion label to showcase at NYFW twice, and Arise Fashion Week which was opened by supermodel Naomi Campbell.
iROKOtv – Streaming/Production
iROKOtv is making access to Nollywood TV easy for viewers all over the world.
Created by young entrepreneur Jason Njoku, iROKOtv is an online platform that provides paid-for Nigerian films on-demand. It is Africa’s first mainstream online movie streaming website, giving instant access to over 5,000 Nollywood film titles. This ground-breaking and pioneering move by Njoku made iROKOtv one of Africa’s leading entertainment companies.
Njoku is an example of why it is important never to give up, he attempted to create and develop different business ideas but failed a total of 10 times, his many ideas included a blog, t-shirt company and web design company, they all failed to move past development stages.
It was while at his mother’s house that he had the idea for his eleventh business idea, he noticed that the West had platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime but Africa didn’t have anything on that scale and through that iROKOtv was born.
Launched towards the end of 2011 in London where its headquarters remain, the company opened offices in New York in 2012, and another in Johannesburg the following year.
For iROKOtv, the sky is the limit. As the company continues to grow, it now produces high-quality programs and films, as well as acting as a streaming platform.
This media giant is packed full of potential and is only just gathering steam.
Chika’s – Food
Chika Russell made the headlines because she turned down an offer of £30,000 from Dragon’s Den panellist Peter Jones, she instead managed to secure funding totalling £800,000 from eight other investors.
Chika’s is a brand of a delicious range of snacks inspired by the creator’s West African heritage.
Russell started her business out of her love for cooking and hosting friends and families. Her guests would always rave about her amazing homemade Nigerian snacks, which inspired her to refine her recipes and flavours in hopes of turning it into a successful trade.
Russell’s snacks which include hand cooked plantain crisps, smoked almonds, chickpea crisps, and hand-toasted peanuts are inspired by the flavours she experienced as a child spending her summers in Nigeria. She split her time between London and a small village in Anambra State, south-eastern Nigeria.
“These are the foods of my childhood in Nigeria, and I wanted people in the UK to experience the same great flavours that I got to enjoy growing up.”
Her snacks are available in supermarkets all over the UK. Stockists include Waitrose, Whole Foods and Sainsbury’s.
With a focus on creating super nutritious snacks using only simple and wholesome ingredients, the range currently houses eight different products.
Russell plans to use some of the profits and invest it in Nigeria by sponsoring children through education.
“The fundamental reason is to give back to the communities where the inspiration for the snacks comes from.”
She plans to sell to individuals the same way that she sells to hotels and businesses: in large quantities. Customers can buy a ‘Snacks 4 Change’ caddy and 500g of nuts to fill it for £5.99, 20 per cent of which will go towards sponsoring a child’s education in West Africa.
By starting this production in 2014 and making it a success, Russell has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with: “A lot of people thought the task of launching Chika’s was impossible but I’ve made it work, execution is the main thing. My skill is not ideas, its execution.”
These brands and so much more are allowing the world to experience Africa on a whole new level, they are rewriting Africa’s narrative, and paving the way for other businesses and companies from the continent and allowing them to express their African pride unapologetically.