Founder’s Speech at Bellafricana ACE Awards 2017

Bellafricana held the very first African Creative Exhibition and Awards (ACE Awards), an initiative to celebrate creative and innovative works of Nigerians (Africans) with a goal to encourage more talents to look inwards and create more globally acceptable brands. If you missed the Founder’s speech (Bukky Asehinde) on the day, here is the full speech.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guest of Honour, Friends, Family, Nominees, Verified Businesses, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good evening. This awards ceremony over which I am honoured to preside launches the process of celebrating creative quality businesses in Nigeria (Africa)… 

First, I will like to thank God almighty for making today possible and a reality, my husband who stood by me through the sleepless night of preparation, my staff for keying in strongly into the Bellafricana dream and staying dedicated, my parents for their support, friends, supporters and you.

Also want to use this opportunity to thank all our wonderful mentors, endorsers, sponsors, special thanks to our Gold sponsor, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, for believing in us and helping us increase capacity, all our support sponsors, strategic partners, media partners, exhibitors, volunteers and everyone that stood by us and many others that are here today, really appreciate you all.

This journey started in November 2013, during NYSC and was birthed in February 2014, with the aim to promote the beauty of Africa by using African textile for gift items at the time. Then a reset button was pushed and the journey restarted in April 2016 with a renewed vision to be the foremost online platform for Afrocentric products and services delivering around the world through a mission of bridging the global buyer-seller gap of quality producers in Africa and their consumers by creating richer platforms for them to grow.

I am strongly motivated to retain this approach by an all-inclusive understanding and interpretation of this theme within the context of the realities of present day Nigeria (Africa).

There is no doubt now that there is a prevailing need for young people even the old to stop waiting for the government to fix every hole in the economy but rather take-up creative and innovative ideas to make the economy even better.

Without having to go into details of major challenges that MSMEs face (Challenges such as access to finance, power, infrastructure, poor value chain and so much more) but shedding light on the solutions and positives.

Is it not clear that MSMEs are improving in their quality, creativity, re-investing their little profit, eager to gain knowledge and increase capacity, attracting the International market etc…

I once wrote and must reiterate that you really don’t need to have been born 2 generations ago to understand that whatever is happening in the Nigerian Economy today is a generational thing.

I don’t really believe a “Made-in-Nigeria Campaign” for a moment will resolve the current situation, but I do believe “Made-in-Nigeria” should be a way of life.

Some are bothered about what should have been done, some about what could be done, but I am more interested in what will be done and what you can do!

And so, I will like to ask; How do you expect to save a dying tree by giving medicine to the leaves?

I would answer: The root of the tree might make more sense to heal.

One key thing that drives the burning passion at Bellafricana, is the fact that we are not in the business of waiting for the government to fix every hole in the economy. We believe in creating and innovating ideas to make our economy a better place.

What you can do is why I believe we are all gathered here tonight, coming together to recognise and encourage these hardworking and greatly skilled men and women who are making significant impact through their various Industries/sectors.

Permit me also to welcome and congratulate ACE Awards 2017 Nominees from across different states in Nigeria. This award was conceived by Bellafricana as a way of recognizing, encouraging and celebrating quality creative businesses taking Nigeria (Africa) global. This celebration will take place annually and will also serve as a means of encouraging others to emulate these role models from kids to pioneers.

Under a year, Bellafricana has over 200 Creative businesses subscribed to her platform and over 50 verified businesses.

Research shows that about 52% of all small businesses in Nigeria are home-based, as you may already know, the growth of any Nation is dependent on the small businesses. What better way to connect these small businesses to their consumers than online which is the key showcasing point for Bellafricana?

You must agree with me that Nigeria is an import driven nation and if we are looking to diversify and become an export driven nation, it starts from MSMEs.

I am indeed proud to say that Bellafricana (if I can say so myself) has created a laudable platform for MSMEs in Nigeria to take the lead in all effort to promote selfworth, create jobs, restore the nations wealth, encourage entrepreneurship, build and promote networks for intraAfrican trade, international trade, business collaboration and investment.

This proves that the work of rebuilding our country and Africa at large is one all patriots and stakeholders must actively engage in.

Thank you all.