Oh what a year it has been. I don’t know about you, but I am so fond of reflecting on the just concluded year. Thinking of the good and the bad, thanking God for both, and planning in advance for the year to come. My first thanks goes to God for His grace, my husband, my family, my mentors, friends, all verified business owners and you. Thank you for sticking close with Bellafricana this year. This post is basically to give you a summary of how the year was for us at Bellafricana, despite the uncertainties in the Nigerian economy. It was one of the best years thus far for the brand. Let’s get right into it, shall we.
Bellafricana Highlight for 2016
Let’s just call year 2016, The Evolution Year. We completely re-strategised this year to communicate better the vision for Bellafricana. Most times, it’s never easy to have a start up and completely get it right from when you press START.
When year 2016 began, my main prayer to God was for a ‘CLEARER VISION’. His word for me was in Psalm 32: 8 (KJV: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”) and that was all I needed to get through the year.
Just before I break it all down, please bare with me and stick real close so you don’t get lost. As you already know, I can talk for Africa 😉
Bellafricana officially relaunched in April, 2016. That was really when business opened for us, let’s be honest. The first quarter was more of research and planning.
And so it all began, the relaunch was featured in top offline and online media; The Guardian, This Day Live, Punch, Vanguard, Nigeria Communications Week, Connect Nigeria, Trade Nigeria etc
We gradually started gaining grounds and re-tuned the focus statement stating that Bellafricana is a platform that connects creative Afrocentric (made in Africa) products to their local and global consumers.
And so we thought, if the plan was to get as many not just Made-in-Nigeria products but Quality-Made products to the forefront of the market, we had to ensure they are verified.
So we introduced the Bellafricana verification process, where;
1) The business has to be registered before we take them on board.
2) The business has to operate locally in Nigeria.
3) The product must be good quality. Physical products had to be posted to our office to attest to the quality before taking them on board.
The verification process kicked off in May, where we got the first company MitiMeth verified, and after that the community started to grow.
- We attended over 10 exhibitions, where 70% was in partnership with Bellafricana
At Bellafricana, we believe so much in collaborations to make a bigger impact. So we noted that to get to a wider audience, partnership is key.
Let’s do a quick run down of the Achievements made in 2016;
- Bimbeads, one of the verified businesses, got selected for an exhibition in China through Bellafricana.
- African Things got listed in Lagos International airport through Bellafricana
- Verified businesses got access to expat communities through Bellafricana via: French bazaar, Chevron bazaar, The Market Place, etc.
- Bellafricana founder was amongst the entrepreneurs in technology that was selected to attend the GIST Women’s Village Workshop in Lagos, Nigeria on the 18th of May, 2016. A workshop by the U.S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative, in cooperation with the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, which was organised for 25 science and technology entrepreneurs to promote women’s access to entrepreneurship resources.
- 6 New Partnerships to give more visibility and save cost for verified businesses with The Sole Adventurer (TSA), Printivo, Virtual Agents, The Market Place, Trade Nigeria, Inside Watch Africa, Check Out Africa. Thank you all.
- 2 Endorsements from Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce.
- Bellafricana partnered with African Sustainable SME Export Trade Solutions (ASSETS) to educate SMEs on Non-oil Export. The workshop was a success with over 60 creative businesses in attendance.
- More exposure for verified businesses, new prospects and customers and increase business growth.
- And many more achievements
We had some Challenges too;
- Communication Restraint
- Not a lot of businesses maximised the potentials on Bellafricana
- Lack of quality pictures supply
That being said, we also have some major plans for next year and we are always excited to share it with you first.
Some Plans for Next Year;
1. The first Bellafricana Annual Exhibition and Awards coming up on the 22nd of April, 2017. Post will be coming up shortly about it.
2. Introducing new membership packages on Bellafricana
3. More exclusive exhibitions in partnership with organisations.
4. Online forum for creatives to share and gain idea.
You will be informed of other plans as the year goes by.
Even though, this year was a trial run to prove the viability of the new strategy for growth at Bellafricana, we had over 100 subscribed creatives and about 40 were verified. Next year, we are looking to scale up to 500 verified businesses.
If you were in Nigeria this year, you might have noticed the trend of (#MadeinNigeria, #BuyNigeriatogrowthenaira), however, at Bellafricana, we don’t just believe Nigerians will buy Nigerian made because it’s “Made-in Nigeria”.
We believe very much that they will buy quality and the focus should be on Quality made in Nigeria with a Global edge. The goal should be to Create local but to think Global.
Which is why if we are looking to diversify the Nigerian economy through Non-oil export, we all have to identify the value chain of Non-oil export.
Hence, we re-tuned the mission statement for Bellafricana;
Bellafricana is an initiative with a focus on Made-in-Nigeria Non-oil products development where customers and suppliers engage and transact to bridge the buyer-seller gap and create a wider outreach for Nigerian products locally & globally.
We have created a platform to enable creative MSMEs thrive, whilst doing all it takes to bring the quality products to the forefront of the market.
We very much believe that a support group/community for these businesses, will enhance the Non-oil export in the Nigerian economy.
One major high point for 2016: The beautiful reassuring feeling I was on the right path when I saw the same woman that brought me up from primary 1 -6 (the Proprietress of my High School, Starland Private School Mrs Olomofe-Kufeji aka Mummy 2) at the Induction into membership of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Just before I conclude, meet our new Community Manager below, Gbemisola Afolabi. You will be seeing a lot of her in 2017.
My name is Bukky Asehinde and I am the founder of Bellafricana.
On behalf of my team and I, will like to use this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Wish you an awesome year 2017.
Remember: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
I have now put together a 4 minutes video that captures the summary of all we got up to in 2016.
Happy reading and enjoy the video. Feel free to leave a message in the comment area below.