Africa is a diverse continent with strong traditions, vibrant cultures, great pride, stunning beauty, and bountiful natural wealth. In a move to compete internationally, Africans are delivering unique products that represent the continent’s traditional values and display deep cultural roots by proudly bearing the trademark Made in Africa
One such example of a successful African brand gone global would be by the Nigerian entrepreneur, Taofick Okoya, who foresaw a great opportunity and gap in the market where no one else did. To date, he has produced two toy lines of African Barbie dolls – one named Queens of Africa, and the other, Naija Princesses.
Mr. Okoya came about this idea while he was shopping for his niece. He could not find a doll that represented her, or that was an accurate reflection of what African girls look like–particularly the skin color and hair type. This realization inspired the worldwide phenomena of the African Barbie doll line, each unique in symbolizing a different tribe in Nigeria.
The success of African Barbies demonstrates the vast potential for Made in Africa to become a universal trend, representing the uniqueness, diversity, ingenuity and quality that Africans can be proud of across a global stage. Mr. Okoya found a gem in a hidden place, and now he has established the Made in Africa product for African children, which has gone international.
There is an exciting upward momentum here that Africans must capitalize on. In his recent July 2015 visit to Kenya, President Obama stated that, ‘I wanted to be here because Africa is on the move.’ He has praised Kenya as the largest economy and technology hub in East Africa, and many other rising African countries are on a similar growth path with the potential to become great industrialized nations.
First, however, African nations must come to the realization that they must support domestic trade and enterprise in order to stimulate local industries and create local demand and supply for African made goods. Africa also has a majority of its young labor force at its disposal. With the right development of skills and training, a local workforce can lower production costs in the long run.