As part of her quest to bridge the gap between artisans, manufacturers of Afrocentric products and their consumers, Bellafricana, a company that promotes the beauty of Africa relaunches an online platform showcasing unique businesses of products and services made in Nigeria (Africa).
The online platform is now (www.bellafricana.com) launched to showcase, promote and celebrate local creative artisans and small business owners of Afrocentric brands in Africa. Starting with Nigeria her home-land, the plan is to take it one African Country at a time.
Speaking with new relaunched platform, Bukky Asehinde, CEO, Bellafricana explained that there has been a vast increase in the number of unique businesses who are maximising raw materials in Nigeria (Africa) and providing employment for local talents in the country.
She said, however, the major challenge is that these businesses fail to know the essence of Marketing, which is the heart of any business. Without marketing, a brand will not be visible.
Asehinde also the etymology of the word ‘Afrocentric’ means; originated, derived, made in Africa.
She said “To a large extent, it’s not as if Nigerians don’t want to patronize products made in Nigeria, but they aren’t aware of most of these brands with good quality standard”.
"The only difference", she said, between an imported product and a local one, take for instance a gift item is the quality and durability of the products. You would also notice that, majority of Afrocentric businesses are raising their standards and quality to be globally competitive.
"There is however, a huge difference between a product that is made by hand and a product that is made with machines; the time, creative thoughts put into it and so much more. This is why only a few people that value Intellectual Property can truly put a price to such products and services.
Bellafricana will be starting with 3 main categories; Arts and Crafts, Fashion, Home and Living, and look to expand as she grows.
According to Bukky, any business that will be listed on Bellafricana goes through a verification process whereby checks are done on the products to attest to the standard and quality.
As much as we would like to help everybody, we are also selective of the brands that are listed and only want people that; understand the essence of good quality standards, are passionate about sharing their crafts with the world and are ready to expand their business and grow their revenue.
“We will help these Afrocentric businesses get to their target market mostly via digital marketing, which enables a wider reach of audience both Locally and Internationally, also through strategic collaborations”- She said.
Based on a research conducted on potential buyers of Afrocentric products by Bellafricana, it showed that 6 out of 10 people are willing to buy Nigerian made, however 4 out of 10 would rather not patronize Nigerian/African brands based on past experience. Experiences related to pricing, good quality standard, good customer service to name a few.
"With these past experiences, whether direct or indirect, we acknowledge that this is one of the challenges we are likely to face, sensitizing the public to patronize more brands.
"However, there has been a great improvement in the economy of brands that have very good and acceptable quality, but lack the essence of marketing.
"Hence, we are working towards eradicating the doubts of the target market towards buying Nigerian/African brands and working with these sellers on how to make their products more credible in the Nigerian market if they have intentions to be sustainable and expand," she said.
Another research conducted on sellers of Afrocentric products by Bellafricana, showed that 8 out of 10 people that make Afrocentric products are focusing on the Internationally market before capturing the larger local Market, whilst 2 out of 10 have their focus on marketing locally and reach a larger target audience.
"Contrary to what a lot of people might think, with regards to the extent of the target market locally, we believe, why create a brand today and look at making it acceptable globally if one isn’t even able to make it acceptable locally.
"Our vision at Bellafricana, is to make Afrocentric products and services globally accessible. But as you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
"We are here to get manufacturers of Afrocentric products, recyclers of waste to unique products, made in Nigeria manufacturers, handcrafters, artisans with brands that have good quality standard in the forefront of the market while helping others to focus on building a quality brand and grow their standards.
"We already have over 10 brands listed; MitiMeth, Jewellery by Itoro Okon, Beautifully Nappy, Delavi Couture, Catyna Designs, Ty Tys Designs, Belle and Grace, Ion Jewelry and many more," she explained.
The Bellafricana.com CEO added that by stating that Bellafricana is working really hard to ensure the Afrocentric manufacturers and artisans are improving their quality standards to a point that is acceptable, hence why we encourage Nigerians to patronize them so as to boost the economic growth during this downturn.