Bellafricana, an online platform for Afrocentric products, services. I have a dream! That one day, Afrocentric products and services will be globally accessible. I want to share with you how Bellafricana started, and the next phase for Bellafricana. We are presently upgrading our website for a better experience. I moved back in 2012 to Nigeria after few years out of the Country for studies…
I started my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC, a compulsory service for graduates in Nigeria) late 2012, which is where Bellafricana was born. I was posted to Ondo State, where I served in Ikare Akoko Camp, and was later posted to serve in Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA). Ended up having a landlady who happened to be a tailor. 4 months down the service feeling unproductive, I started to invest my allawee (NYSC allowance) in buying fabrics and giving it to my landlady to sew ideas that I came up with. That’s how I got into using local fabrics for wears.
Gradually realised more things can be made using local fabrics, so I started making unique products using local fabrics for gift items, interior decorations and wears. You see, I’m more of a creative thinker, so I found myself some local artisans to make my design as I thought.
In 2013, I had my first exclusive exhibition, which attracted various Captains of Industry and representatives from the UK Trade and Investment & British High Commissioners office (Bless the soul of Late Peter Carter, he was so supportive).
Since then, I had an e-commerce website just for my Afrocentric products, and I made back x10 of my initial investment which came from my allawee (NYSC allowance), family, friends, and my now husband who believed so much in me.
Gradually, I started getting contacted by people wanting to list on my platform. I had to turn them down because I needed to understand the online stage of marketing my own products before anyone else. I spent the whole of 2013, learning, unlearning and relearning. I realized there are loads of artisans but less marketers!
For over 2 years now, my main focus has been on products made locally in Nigeria and Africa as a whole!. In 2014, I upgraded my website to a marketplace where I decided to take on few artisans to help boost their products.
To be honest, I wasn’t doing too badly, I was able to leverage on my over 8000 email contacts (collected over the years) filled with expatriates, diaspora, executives and more. But I wanted to do more, I yearned to help more.
Guess what, I failed to do one important thing we all are guilty of. Chasing your passion but forgetting your stream of revenue (how to keep making money to sustain the business). Towards the end of 2015, I suspended the marketplace to be relaunched in 2016. I now know my strengths and weaknesses, I now know the best way to go about helping others and making money, I now know how to connect more contacts of consumers both locally and internationally looking for unique Afrocentric product, services. WE ARE UPGRADING!
Are you an Afrocentric business? Basically do you make your products locally or source for them anywhere in Africa? Do you recycle to make unique products? Are you a creator or an inventor? Is your business proudly Nigerian or African? Then get set!
I AM UPGRADING
I realise that for me to convince as many people around me and far from me to buy Nigerian, buy African or buy local, I have to lead by example. The honest truth is that I am equally as guilty as you, trusting the quality of an imported product or products bought abroad over products sold locally. That is changing for me and I am going to start by leading by example.
Let me enlighten you a little, do you know that when you buy from a Nigerian or African business, you are not only helping the business owner, you are providing jobs, you are taking one more person/children off the streets, you are providing a roof for a family, bottom line is you are impacting directly into the economy.
Allow me tell you the honest truth my fellow Nigerians, remember when we voted in “change” last year. That change is not the leader you voted for. That change is YOU! YOU! YOU!
There’s a very deep mentality in Nigeria within Nigerians, and not until we clean that mentality would we move forward. If you notice a void in the economy, this is not the time to moan about it, this is the time to proffer a solution. Be a creator, be an innovator, be the change!
Well, I’m not about to talk about the economy because that’s not my area of influence, but I won’t join you complaining. I will focus on how to make things better. My own bother is on suppliers of Afrocentric products and services.
It’s not until we increase the level at which we patronise suppliers and manufacturers of products and services locally, the economy isn’t going anywhere.
Brand visibility amongst other things is one very lacking thing I realise when it comes to so many upcoming Afrocentric brands in Nigeria (Africa). Another essential thing lacking is marketing. How can a brand become visible if you don’t market it, or if it’s not being shared, read, and seen everywhere?
So be prepared, as I will be hunting for unique Afrocentric brands and introducing them to you. I can’t succeed in helping them without you patronizing them or telling atleast 10 people you know about Bellafricana.
So not only is Bellafricana upgrading to be the platform connecting suppliers of Afrocentric products and services to their consumers. I, Bukky Asehinde, is also upgrading to change my wardrobe and lifestyle to patronising Afrocentric businesses. I am the CHANGE for the future of NIGERIA.
So join me, come on board. You are either a business owner of an Afrocentric brand or a prospect to patronize an Afrocentric business! We all need one another.
Get started by joining the community at www.bellafricana.com as we upgrade! Something big is coming, stay connected!