When it comes to the merger of fashion with technology, Africa is usually depicted as a continent with very little innovation. True, it is not exactly Silicon Valley but countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have proven that they are not shy about finding fashion solutions with the help of technology.With technology advancement still in its infancy, African countries are investing more in retail tech than fashion tech. If you look at the up and coming startups, you realise that the merger of fashion with technology is not high priority, innovation that sells fashion is. Now as the explosion of tech ideas change the landscape, we are starting to see great things from forward thinking Africans, who we insist you get to know.
Retail Tech Evolution Knows No Bounds
Honey Ogundeyi is founder of the much celebrated Fashpa. It is a retail tech business that is thriving in Nigeria. Ogendeyi overcame different challenges to become the west African’s leading online store. With customers across 10 countries, the founder admits that 95 percent are Nigerian fashionistas.
Promising delivery within 3 days, note the vast majority of roads in Nigeria are unpaved, has made her business appealing to the younger market who want what they want now. In an interview with NewsWeek, Ogundeyi admitted that the lack of competition in Nigeria’s online fashion space has helped her business.“The country has only a handful of e-fashion retailers compared with developed markets like Britain. I hope to exploit this space to become Africa’s first fashion startup valued at more than $1 billion”. She adds, “[In the U.K.], you’ll never be number one, or even number two, three or four. But here, I actually run the number one online fashion retailer.”
Another online e-commerce platform that is making a name for itself is ONYCHEK.com. Founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Chekwas Okafor, ONYCHEK has built a reputation for stocking only the best of African couture from some of the continent’s most celebrated designers.
What makes ONYCHEK.com different from Fashpa is how it is redefining the relations between Africa and Europe through tech. Aiming to be the leading retail portal for African fashion, the startup is using retail tech to showcase and promote African luxury fashion to the rest of the world.
Afrobytes, Highlighting Africa’s Innovation
Afrobytes is the 1st Hub dedicated to African Tech in Europe. The conference has been successfully bringing entrepreneurs, business executives, CEOs, academics, innovators, investors, venture capitalists, tech enthusiasts and media together to explore business opportunities between the African tech ecosystem and global tech world players.
As the growth in technology leapfrogs over old technologies in various African countries, Afrobytes continues to play a key role in accelerating startups, organizing conferences and inventing digital services for the African diaspora. Co-founded by Ammin Youssouf, the must attend tech event is one of the few events building a bridge between African and European tech markets.
Diplomat of Technology Mariéme Jamme
Technologist Mariéme Jamme is a Senegalese-born British businesswoman who founded a consultancy company called Spotone Global Solutions, that helps technology companies set a foothold in Africa. A regular speaker at Women of the World (WOW) her ventures are supported many organisations such as Google, Ernest and Young, Microsoft, UN Women, Legatum Institute, HSBC Private Banking, and The Africa Progress Panel chaired by Kofi Annan.
Praised for her role in promoting technology, good governance, transparency and a better education standard in Africa, Mariéme has collected quite a few accolades. These include being named twice in 2014 and in 2016 as one of the 100 most influential Africans by the African Business Magazine and a mentioned in 2012 Forbes 20 youngest powerful women in Africa.
With a lot of tech innovations going on in Africa, now is the perfect time to let go of some of the myths and misconceptions about the continent, and invest in what promises to be a sure thing.