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Interview With The co-founders Of Vuuqa, Horesia Nyawade and Tshiwela Ncube

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Tshiwela Ncube and Horesia Nyawade co-founded Vuuqa, an online African emporium store that sells African brands with the goal of connecting African creators to customers. They met at the Wits Business School, Johannesburg, South Africa. It was during their frequent interactive and ethnically diverse networking sessions that they realized the demand of, and difficulty of access to African products made by Africans. In this interview with  Alaba Ayinuola  of Business Africa OnlineHoresia and Tshiwela shared their passion for African brands, why they launched Vuuqa, the development of Africa eCommerce ecosystem amongst others. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: Kindly tell us about VUUQA and the gap it’s filling.

Tshiwela & Horesia: Vuuqa is an online marketplace that sells African brands. We are a 100% African woman owned company. We identify and position ourselves as a Pan African brand name. Our aim is to digitally connect African creators to the world by facilitating them with the best online shopping experience. Our renowned products are those made in Africa by Africans to be sold globally.

Africans are becoming more creative and innovative, introducing new brands into the market. Vuuqa provides access to market through the online marketplace that is purely dedicated to these brands. Selling your products on Vuuqa gives you your own website at an affordable rate and capitalizes on the power of numbers ensuring sales.

 

Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?

Tshiwela & Horesia: Our startup capital was R40 000, which was bootstrapped from friends, family and savings.

 

Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?

Tshiwela & Horesia: When we first launched Vuuqa, we based our business on the drop-shipping model, commonly used with platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba. We believed that it would be a better sell to the brands if we allowed them to keep their stock and only sold the products once they were ordered by the customer. We quickly found out that Africa’s infrastructure, in terms of affordable data connectivity and transport/logistics, wasn’t optimum for this model. Another challenge we encountered was discovering that most brands would easily breach the contract and sell items that were on the platform without updating Vuuqa.

This caused problems in terms of the promised product or time associated with its delivery. These incidents made us switch our model to instead start accepting consignment from the different brands. We also continue to define Afri-commerce, which is e-commerce that considers the culture, infrastructure and financial conditions of the different countries within the continent.

 

Alaba: What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?

Tshiwela & Horesia: You cannot copy and paste models that have worked in other continents in Africa. It is important to do thorough market research, as much as we can learn from other countries, it is important to remember to adjust those models to fit the African market.

 

Alaba: What’s the future for your business and what steps are you taking in achieving them?

Tshiwela & Horesia: We see ourselves as the future of retail buying not only to Africans but to anyone who loves and supports Africa. To achieve this, we started early by setting out our strategy, processes and action plans. We are ensuring that we stay funder ready, stay professional and provide quality service to our customers. We believe in research and believe that it will keep us ahead of the game.

Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa?

Tshiwela & Horesia: At Vuuqa, we are building an ecosystem and pushing the narrative of grow Africa, buy Africa, by Africans. Encouraging the creation and purchase of locally produced brands, with local resources, by locals ensures that the money generated in made in and remains in the economy – thus fueling the development of our continent.

 

Alaba: What’s your view on the development of Africa eCommerce ecosystem?

Tshiwela & Horesia: We believe we still have a lot of work to do, however more companies with an ethos like Vuuqa coming up, shows progress. Some of the challenges faced include includes finding the right payment methods as a majority of Africans are unbanked. Another big challenge is logistics due to infrastructural issues in Africa, however this goes to show that there is room for innovation and those innovations will certainly be developed in Africa.

 

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Tshiwela & Horesia: I feel that it is truly Africa’s time, I mean its always been Africa’s time, but I feel we are ready for it now. I feel great, confident and ready to take all the opportunities that Africa has to give.

 

Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?

Tshiwela & Horesia: We love going out to eat and socialising and going on getaways away from the city. We also love watching documentaries.

We read a lot of African authors and most times prefer to read non-fiction story books to relax. We challenge each other at least read one book a month.

Also Read Interview With Street Global Venture Capital Partners, Alysia Silberg And Christian Meyers

Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favorite local dish?

Tshiwela & Horesia: Language Tshivenda: Zwiliwa – Food and my Favourite local dish is Samp and chicken stew

 

Alaba: What’s your favorite holiday spot in your country? Why?

Tshiwela & Horesia: Cape Town, its one of the best places to visit in the world, the views are to die for.

 

Horesia & Tshiwela Profile:

Horesia Nyawade is the co-founder and Chief Innovator at Vuuqa, an online marketplace for African brands. Born in Kenya and raised in five different countries. She is passionate about the continent and identifies as a Pan African. The inception of an online emporium manifested from her investigation of the lost textile industry in Africa. Vuuqa is the first step towards her vision to unite and empower small businesses in Africa. Horesia is an industry leader in African brands. She assists creatives within Africa to reach a larger customer base by providing access to market through digital platforms.
Horesia’s past experience includes working for Deloitte East Africa where she primarily served as a business analyst under the risk advisory department. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Wits Business School.

Tshiwela Ncube is the cofounder and Chief Operations Officer at Vuuqa an online marketplace that sells African brands. With experience that spans over 10 years across the Information Technology, Financial Services, telecommunications and eRetail industry. Her interests and passions are in innovative ideas and solutions that can solve African problems. A contributor to various African business based publications on the topic of Afri-Commerce, she also holds an MBA from the Wits Business School.

 

Start shopping! Visit Vuuqa

 

 

Afripreneur

Shaun Duvet on The Unit Group and the Impact of COVID-19

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Shaun Duvet, Founder and CEO at The Unit Group (Source: Unit Group website)

The impact of Covid-19 is changing the way organisations operate and do business about the world. The entertainment industry is not exempted as it’s adjudged the second affected industry after the aviation, travel and hospitality industry. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Shaun Duvet the Founder and CEO of The Unit Group shares his brand story and the Impact of Covid-19. Excerpt.

Alaba: Could you tell us about the Unit Group and the gap it’s filling since you launched?

Shaun: The Unit Group was established  in 2017 as the holding company for my various business interests which include: COCO, GoldBar and Souk (my venues), Ultra South Africa, Corona Sunsets Festivals, Anything Goes, AG Virtual, Bella Bookings, Salute, Jet Black & Paradise Springs. These businesses cover all functions of entertainment marketing, management, hospitality, sponsorship and eventing from design, to staffing and artist booking, to production and everything in between.

The gap we launched The Unit Group to fill was that of a true understanding of marketing in the entertainment space. So many brands want to play in this space because the audiences are so receptive and the engagement so high, yet so few of them truly understand it. We felt that we had the marketing know-how, and a deep love and knowledge of not only this space, but the global players within it. 

Alaba: What services does your company offer?

Shaun: The services offered range from throwing small corporate events to festivals for 50, 000 pax; to sponsorship strategies, virtual events; to full spectrum design, photography, videography; artist, model and staff bookings; marketing, and PR strategies and much, much more. 

Alaba: How has the market responded to your offerings?

Shaun: We have seen a huge uptake in clients that previously came to us just to make the party happen, now asking for marketing, creative and strategic advice. AG Virtual, which launched this year, has also seen the likes of AFI (African Fashion Week) approach us to do their full virtual production.

Alaba: The steady rise of South Africa’s entertainment industry has  increased competition in the country. What’s your company’s advantage?

Shaun: My 20+ years of experience and my years behind the decks. I live and breathe music and entertainment which enables me to understand what the market wants and keep abreast of global trends. I also have incredible teams in place that keep our work fresh and relevant, and the machine in constant motion.

Alaba: Kindly share some of the challenges faced, especially in this dire time and how you overcoming them? 

Shaun: The challenge of this year is obvious – no events, no DJ’s, no dancing! That’s our life blood. We have managed though to stay busy by diversifying what we offer and working more strategically. Helping brands activate within the highly connected urban youth market in an authentic and resonant manner. Some of our venues are also still operational, and the festivals and events teams are taking some much-needed down time before the parties start again, which we know they will do with a renewed energy when we’re out of the current COVID crisis.

Alaba: Technology is disrupting the entertainment industry across the globe. How’s your company adapting to the use of technology?

Shaun: As mentioned, we have launched AG Virtual which is doing well. But we have always been at the forefront of event and entertainment technology in our work. Our audience demands it. 

Alaba: How does your company contribute and set new standards in the South African entertainment industry?  

Shaun: I regularly write and speak on industry channels and give back to the industry that way. We also ensure that we are constantly raising the bar with the work that we do, meaning that more people around the world sit up and take notice which will ultimately benefit the whole industry.  

Alaba: What’s the future for the Unit Group and are you post COVID-19 ready?

Shaun: We cannot wait for life to return to “normal”. Down time was nice, but we’re rested now and it’s time to work! 

Alaba: How do you relax and what keeps you going? 

Shaun: I have 3 young kids so relaxation is scarce, but they certainly keep me going

Alaba: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs and investors coming to South Africa?

Shaun: Come! Don’t be afraid. There is risk, yes, but the rewards are also so great. We live in such a special place and I really believe in the future of this country.

Also Read Closing The Gender Gap: An Interview with Dream Girl Global (DGG) Founder, Precious Oladokun

B I O G R A P H Y

Shaun Duvet, CEO and Founder of The Unit, South Africa’s leading entertainment-based holding company, a combination of enterprises, individually built to make brands better. Shaun is also the CEO and Founder of Anything Goes, the branded entertainment agency, aligning campaigns, properties and music tours with international brands and artists across the continent.

He is the co-Founder and Director of ULTRA South Africa, which brings 50,000 dance-music revellers together every year to see some biggest names in eEectronic Music. He is the partner and producer for Corona Sunsets Festival South Africa, which over the last 5 years has seen over 40,000 fans join together across three cities to celebrate the sunset.
He is a co-owner and operator for COCO, one of SA’s premiere nightclubs, think celebrities, Ibiza-style go-go dancers, Hip Hop MCs, and a parade of sparkler-topped bottles, this alongside it’s sister GoldBar, an elegant bar annex to COCO.

Shaun Duvet is a board member and proud supporter of Bridges For Music, a non-profit organization that utilises the power of music to uplift communities through creative education. Recently, partnering with Defected Records on a new imprint Sondela Records all of whose profits will channel back directly into the charity.

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Viola Labi: The multi-hyphenate creative strategist building an eco-luxury fashion brand in Africa

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Viola Labi is a multi-hyphenate creative, premium retail Strategist and Founder of WOVEN, a design-led fashion enterprise.

With over a decade of experience and a proven track record in the global luxury retail space, Viola has worked with renowned international brands such as Burberry, ZARA, Loewe, CELINE and Valentino and has caught the attention of media powerhouses such as Vogue Business, Essence, Forbes, BBC and CNN International, as one to watch.

Born in Canada with Ghanaian parentage, Viola is culturally plural and holds reverence to fashion’s interaction with humanity; asserting that it permits people, irrespective of their cultural and social affiliations to unite. It is this fundamental belief and her relocation to Ghana that inspired WOVEN, a ground breaking brand which seeks to herald a new direction for eco-luxury retail on the African continent.

Viola said, WOVEN was birthed from a personal journey to Northern Ghana. “I witnessed my own reunification to elements of rich Ghanaian culture through textile creation at the diligent hand skilled Artisans. Despite language barriers and unfamiliar grounds, I felt at home. I spent more time with women creating textiles and found myself being stitched together in areas I didn’t know needed mending, areas like self-identity and purpose.”

Cowry Basket (Image Source: WOVEN)

“Looking back, I guess you can say we weaved symbolic exchanges of knowledge and cultural practices and this inspired me to creative WOVEN. Although the entire assortment of products are literally woven, the company name speaks to a higher purpose of coming together as Humanity.” She said.

Also Read Closing The Gender Gap: An Interview with Dream Girl Global (DGG) Founder, Precious Oladokun

The Brand’s mission is to actively work towards uniting the fashion value chain into a cohesive whole by showcasing the creative talent that pervades throughout the African continent; while emanating the diversity of culture, history and skill, much like yarn being formed into a unique tapestry. 

Cowry Basket (Image Source: WOVEN)

WOVEN has the honour of partnering with 150 esteemed Artisan weavers in Ghana to create sustainable, functional, home furnishing products. It’s design principles and execution promote inclusion and seek to disrupt fear-based stereotypes by creating products, made in Africa, that are par with those of global standards.

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Emalohi Iruobe, An Attorney and Founder of Tribe XX Lab Empowering Female-led Startups

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Emalohi L. Iruobe Esq. is an attorney, adjunct professor and social entrepreneur. She is the founder of Tribe XX Lab, the first and only co-working, wellness and incubator space exclusively for female entrepreneurs and female led startups and companies in Lagos. Tribe XX Lab offers an open-plan office, private offices, events, networking, yoga, a nap room, conference room, reference library, pop up restaurants and wellness retail.

The fundamental idea is to create a place where women are able to present a professional front for their business as well as network, get training, access to funding opportunities and help each other. With a general focus on self-care and balance, the space also partners with brands that retail wellness and selfcare products in order to meet the other often overlooked core need of women in business-wholeness.

Prior to founding Tribe XX Lab, Emalohi was an adjunct professor of Business Law, Business Research Methods and Legal Analysis and Writing at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, USA for several years before moving to teach Business Law and Data Management at LIM College in Manhattan, New York. Afterwards she taught Expository Writing at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA before founding Aimanosi Lingerie; a dynamic brand focused on promoting body positivity and selflove in African women. She has a Bsc. in Finance and Banking from Lincoln University, PA and a Juris Doctor from Villanova University.

Before delving into full time entrepreneurship, she practiced law in Pennsylvania and New
Jersey working in Commercial litigation, as well as working as the Manager of Project Implementation in the Kwara State Public Private Partnership office in 2013. She comes with over a decade experience in entrepreneurship, law, education and business.

About Tribe XX Lab

Tribe XX Lab is a civic space for complex conversations, critical contemplation, learning and action to prevent all forms of violence and oppression against women and girls. The goal of their work is to change the perceptions of women and their role in society as well as lead conversations and interventions that PREVENT violence against women and girls in the first place. They do this through the use of digital and social media, conversations, XX-CEED Virtual festival, game theory and art.

Through their work, they are particularly looking to provide support to survivors of Gender-based violence, promote greater public engagement in preventing violence against women, increase public awareness of the intersectionality of oppression women face, create social projects that encourage the extermination of rape culture.

Since inception, they have successfully carried out several survival supports programs, prevention panels and have received a grant to prevent gender-based violence against women and girls in universities in Nigeria as well as provide psychological support to victims of GBV in institutions of higher education from Oxfam/Voice.

Emalohi also launched ‘I GO TALK’ ​a​ ​Nigerian​ ​Pidgin​ ​phrase​ ​which​ ​simply​ ​means​ ​I​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​silent,​ ​I​ ​will​ ​tell​ ​on you.​ It ​came​ ​in​ ​as​ ​a​ ​crucial​ ​response​ ​to​ ​the​ ​sexual​ ​violence​ ​that​ female students ​ in Nigerian​ Universities face.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​clarion​ ​call​ ​from​ ​victims,​ ​survivors,​ ​and​ ​women​ ​in​ ​general​ ​to​ ​the​ ​perpetrators​ of ​sexual​ ​abuse​ ​and​ ​to​ ​the​ ​general​ ​public,​ ​that​ ​they’re ​here​ ​to​ XXterminate, silence ​and​ ​provide​ ​support​ ​to​ victims.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​motivation​ ​for​ ​victims​ ​of​ ​sexual​ ​abuse​ ​and harassment ​amongst​ ​University​ ​students​ ​to speak ​up​ ​and​ ​also​ ​a​ ​mode​ ​to​ ​create​ ​awareness for ​students​ ​on​ ​their​ ​rights​ ​in​ ​line​ ​with​ ​the recently signedd​ ​Sexual​ ​Harassment​ ​bill.​

After ​the​ ​BBC​ ​Documentary,​ ​Sex​ ​for​ ​Grades​ ​rocked​ ​the​ ​whole​ ​of​ ​Nigeria​ ​in​ ​October​ ​2019,​ ​the​ ​long​ cloaked ​truth​ ​about​ ​the​ ​oppression that ​young​ ​women​ ​face​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of university ​lecturers​ ​started​ to ​come​ ​to​ ​light.​ ​For the ​longest​ ​time,​ ​young​ ​women​ ​seeking​ ​higher education ​have​ ​been​ ​preyed​ ​upon​ by ​several academicians ​high​ ​in​ ​power​ ​and​ ​have​ ​been oppressed,​ ​victimized,​ ​and​ ​helpless.​

Also Read Closing The Gender Gap: An Interview with Dream Girl Global (DGG) Founder, Precious Oladokun

Starting from the 25​th​ of October to the 31​st​ of October, they are kicking off the first edition of I GO TALK Youth Summit, the largest gathering of university students across the country to build collective power and voice in the fight to end Sex4grades and sexual harassment in Nigerian Universities.

Tribe XX Lab is laser focused on promoting gender equality, deliberate living, transformative leadership and community development through the design and delivery of trainings, workshops, seminars, collaborative partnerships and data gathering.

Visit: Tribe XX Lab & I GO TALK

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