August 17th, 2010
02:24 PM GMT
The more I've been involved with Marketplace Africa (I've been the producer on the show since May), the more impressed I've become with the great sense of entrepreneurship of many Africans.
I'm based in Atlanta, in the U.S., and to try to tell the story of African business and investment all over the world, I dig around to find interesting stories of expats living in North America.
I've come across a Nigerian who lives in Houston, Texas, who founded a business tying gele, or head wraps, for women for weddings and major events.
Segun Gele is his celebrity name, built up partly because he is such a great self-promoter, but it’s not all in promotion alone. I found as I searched for other gele artists in the States and around the world that his name was definitely at the top of the list.
And his business started simply after he offered to help one woman tie her gele at a wedding in Atlanta. He did it so well; others at the wedding asked who tied her gele, then came to him to tie theirs. He quickly realized he could make a living doing it and now he travels the country constantly during wedding season. It’s the only business he’s ever done since he moved to the U.S.
Then I found another Nigerian, Chido Nwangwu, who after moving here decided the U.S. needed a newspaper that told the African story here in the States - connecting Africans living here with Africans on the continent.
USAfrica grew from a newspaper, to an online newspaper, the “first ever African owned U.S.-based online newspaper” to a glossy pictorial magazine called “Class,” to a photo website, a business journal and coming soon, a television network, and book publishing.
We found a Liberian, D.H. Caranda Martin, who learned from his grandmother the intricacies of making tea and coffee. He now makes fine food products with goods imported from 14 countries in Africa and sold in luxury hotels and restaurants. Even the famous New York chef, Marcus Samuelsson, uses his tea.
All of these stories have recently aired on Marketplace Africa, and there are many more to come. There are Canadians who decided to take a chance on investing in Africa (a tall order for many small companies), and who outsource work to Ethiopia and Ghana.
There is a UK-based clothing store that uses designers from around Africa who weave in African fashion in a beautiful way, making it more accessible to the rest of the world. The company's mission is to promote African entrepreneurs.
It is not hard to find amazing African entrepreneurs around the world, and we will continue to strive to bring those stories to the audience. Feel free to send any suggestions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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