6 Pieces of Advice for Starting a New Business in the Afri-sphere

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A reader, Vivi, is working on launching a dream project and wanted advice for budding entrepreneurs in the 'Afri-sphere'. As the blog gradually moves from focusing on providing creative inspiration to also providing business inspiration and resources, I thought I'd share my response to Vivi in the form of a post.

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Interview with Writer and Editor, Nana Ocran (In Anticipation of Afrofuture at Milan Design Week)

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Nana Ocran is a London-based writer and editor who specialises in contemporary African culture. Under her belt is the Time Out Group's series of guides to Lagos and Abuja (Nana was Editor-in-Chief) along with consulting gigs for established publications on West African culture for the Danish Film Institute, Arts Council England and the Institute of International Visual Arts. Furthermore, Nana was nominated for CNN's African Journalist of the Year in 2011. 

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Africa Gathering Festival of Technologies: Friday 15 June, London, UK

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Another great event this year celebrating African creativity and innovation! The annual Africa Gathering conference returns to London this Friday with the theme Festival of Technologies: "Start it, Build It"

Set to explore start-up cultures across Africa and to showcase some of the great start-up ideas that have emerged recently on the continent. The event will incubate new ideas and perspectives regarding technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa and show how Africans are imagining and creating solutions that are changing and improving our lives.

The one-day programme will include:

  • Keynotes and hands-on presentation from a heavy list of speakers including Africa's Hub managers, Apps4Africa winners,  Google UK, Indigo Trust, Thomson Reuters and the World Bank
  • 3 workshops and breakout think groups including one titled "Africa’s Start Up Future (Who is starting and building it in Africa?)".

It's not too late to register online or via contacting info[at]africathering.org or julani[at]africathering.org (replace [at] with @).

Details:
Thomson Reuters Foundation, London
15th June
9am – 6:30pm

Here's Africa Gathering Founder Mariéme Jamme discussing last year's event

AG London – Mariéme Jamme from Africa Gathering on Vimeo.

 

The best of 2011: Afri-love interviews

The motivation behind the Afri-love interview series is to demonstrate the possibilities that come with pursuing your passion. The interviews acknowledge that the path is challenging and they show how its travellers have persisted through adversity with wonderful results. As with the blog in general, there is a strong creative thread – poets, painters, musicians, designers, artists, writers and people creating change through activism.

Here's a round-up of some popular interviews from a diverse group of inspiring people:

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Interview with author and black film aficionado, Nadia Denton (left), and accessories designer Adele Dejak.

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Interview with poet, sports writer and musician, Musa Okwonga.

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Interview with feminist activist Amina Doherty aka sheroxlox (left) and multi-dimensional creative, Ann aka afrolicious.

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Interview with singer-songwriter, Amira Kheir.

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Interview with artist and photographer, Mutua Matheka.

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Interview with artist and creative consultant, Kesha Bruce (left) and artist, photographer and writer, Kameelah Rasheed.

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Interview with blogger, writer and commentator, Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan (left) and developer, author and entrepreneur, Andrew Mugoya.

What was your favourite interview?

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If you missed yesterday's best of 2011 installment, "African and Africa-inspired fashion, interior and furniture design," here it is.

Tune in for the rest of week for:

  • Thursday – Popular commentary posts (from technology to natural hair, from life lessons to identity)
  • Friday – Top music finds of 2011

Get almost-daily Afri-love direct via RSS or straight to your email inbox. Want it less often? Subscribe for juicy extra content (2-4 emails per month). 

Week in review and putting in the work

Back in business indeed! It's been a great week. I've been working 12 hour days and I can still say that because, I changed my attitude. Ultimately, I love what I do and, from that perspective, all the time I put into it is enjoyment rather than chore. Sure I don't think 12 hour days are sustainable (nor desirable) in the long-run but, sometimes you have to put in that extra effort/time/energy/sweat/sacrifice to get to where you want. That's what thousands of people across our continent (and further afield) are demonstrating by actively demanding change.

It's not even March and we've seen results such as many never expected. Two dictatorial regimes toppled in Tunisia and Egypt and, Libyans and Algerians standing up to their governments too. You can't help but wonder where this revolutionary momentum will blow to next. Some Sub-Saharan governments, in what cannot be considered anything but an admission of tyranny, are rushing to censor information* about the aforementioned protests up North. What in their minds must seem like prevention, will surely further fuel the fire within the hearts of dissatisfied citizens. 

I've found it to be true that, once you start doing something, you generate the awareness, insight and energy to do so much more. Idleness begets idleness and action becomes exponential. It is with this attitude, that I plan to approach the rest of 2011 and I hope you will too! Let's go create the lives we want.

(* Thanks for the link @Mwistar)

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On the lookout: Afriapps

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Afriapps is a new Asilia initiative to showcase apps from and for Africa. We are  looking forward to further developing this platform for exposure, for both developers and users alike. The work will involve helping to establish industry standards, with the aim of increasing the quality (and competitiveness) of apps from and for Africa. My business partner, Andrew Mugoya, talks more about it here and discusses it with Afrinnovator here.

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Last week on the blog

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A full week it was. Here is a recap, in case you missed anything:

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Thanks as always for taking the time to read and to share comments, facebook appreciation and tweet love. Remember, you can also get blog updates as well as extra links, ideas, news and info via facebook (afriloveblog) and twitter (@afrilove).

Have a great week everybody, be proud and be inspired!

Lulu x

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Image copyright Mutua Matheka

Inspired: Boucherouite rugs from Morocco

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I was browsing Design*Sponge when I saw these beautiful Boucherouite rugs from Morocco. Made from leftover scraps of fabric and other materials, as wool became more rare and expensive, the result is spontaneous and unique designs. Read more about them and see more images here.

This reminds me of a great Ted Talk where researcher Charles Leadbeater talks about how innovation usually takes place where resources are too scarce for traditional solutions to work*. Afrigadget is another great example of the power of ingenuity where resources aren't always abundant.

*It's a fantastic talk about reimagining education and I highly recommend giving it a view!
Images from Brix Picks 

Maker Faire Africa: 27th – 28th August, Nairobi

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The anticipated Maker Faire Africa takes place this Friday and Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya.

The programme sounds exciting with Solar Makers, Crafting Peace and Business 101 workshops, along with Show & Tell sessions, live matching as well as an exhibit and unconference that run throughout both of the days. The ethos of the event is captured well in the following excerpt from the program:

"The spirit of Making is all about breaking things apart to better undertand them (and build something even more useful), so that’s what we want you to do with our faire: make it what you need."

Can't make it to Nairobi this week? You can still help Match a Maker and give inventors an opportunity to take their work to the next level.

Be sure to check out this interview with the Maker Faire Africa founder, Emeka Okafor. Maker Faire Africa aims to question: “How do we regain our creativity? How do we redefine what we mean by a society that is advanced?”

Indeed that's the kind of interrogation Afri-love exists to champion: how do we use our unique gifts to chart our own paths, appropriate to our unique needs and aspirations?

Images above by Erik Hersman (aka @whiteafrican) except for the fan image which is courtesy of Maneno.org. For more pictures, check out Maker Faire Africa on Flickr

Humanitarian design and imperialism

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Interesting article by Bruce Nussbaum discussing humanitarian design and imperialism.

An excerpt:  
"But should we take a moment now that the movement is gathering speed to ask whether or not American and European designers are collaborating with the right partners, learning from the best local people, and being as sensitive as they might to the colonial legacies of the countries they want to do good in. Do designers need to better see themselves through the eyes of the local professional and business classes who believe their countries are rising as the U.S. and Europe fall and wonder who, in the end, has the right answers? Might Indian, Brazilian and African designers have important design lessons to teach Western designers?"

And a response to his article suggests:

"The worst thing to do patronize low-income earners by succumbing to nationalistic and inward-looking design. Lets keep sharing, exchanging, and working together and enable the best designs to play out, regardless of origin."

Thanks to @whiteafrican for tweeting the links!