As part of the quest to bridge the gap between artisans, manufacturers of Afrocentric products and their consumers, Bellafricana, a company that promotes the beauty of Africa, had relaunched its online platform, showcasing unique businesses of products and services that are made in Nigeria.
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 to other African countries in phases.
Speaking on the relaunched platform, the CEO, Bellafricana, Bukky Asehinde, explained that there has been a vast increase in the number of unique businesses that are maximising raw materials in Nigeria and Africa and providing employment for local talents in the country.
She however said they have some major challenges, as the businesses fail to recognise the essence of marketing, which is the heart of any business. Without marketing, a brand will not be visible, sha added.
Asehinde said: “To a large extent, it’s not as if Nigerians don’t want to patronise products made in Nigeria, but they aren’t aware of most of these brands with good quality standard”.
She said the only difference between an imported product like gift item and a local one, is the quality and durability of the products. You will notice that, majority of Afrocentric businesses are raising their standards and quality to be globally competitive, she said.
“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,” Asehinde said.
She explained that Bellafricana would be starting with four main categories: Arts and Crafts, Fashion; Home and Living; and Promotional Items.
According to Asehinde, any business that would 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 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 patronise 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 going to face, sensitising the public to patronise more Nigerian 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 sustain and expand it,” she said.