When we are describing our brand to new customers, they often ask, "But why Africa? Why African designs?" So this week, we are answering these questions.
Africa represents the future of global growth. According to African Economic Outlook, the African economy is projected to grow by 5.8% in 2014 while the average growth rate of OECD countries is around 2%. There are signs that this trend will continue: According to the Africa 2014 report published by Ernst & Young, Africa's investment attractiveness "has improved dramatically over the last few years." The report shows that Africa is the second most attractive region for investment after North America as of 2014. We at Maki & Mpho believe strongly in Africa's future prosperity and impact on the world.
Why African designs?
We believe that Africa has rich and diverse cultures but a limited presence in our modern, global cultural discourse: There are not many avenues for non-Africans to experience and learn about modern African arts and lifestyles. This means that most of the world is missing out on Africa's vast pool of creative talents across. That's why we created Maki & Mpho: To be a new platform to connect Africa's creativity with a culturally curious global audience.
How does Maki & Mpho make a positive impact on Africa's growth?
We are committed to presenting aspects of Africa that go beyond safaris, diamonds, HIV/AIDS, conflicts, poverty, and other prevailing – and mostly negative and limited – narratives. Maki & Mpho's designs will bring the delightful, positive, and exciting aspects of African experience to the global audience. This brings tangible outcomes: Positive representations of Africa can attract more visitors to the continent, and this will contribute to local economic growth. More direct contact between Africans and visitors will establish trust, and will also help visitors to be more informed about Africa. Trust and transparency are the key elements to boost investors' confidence: Investors will no longer feel that Africa is such a mystery.
Culture is one aspect of a country's soft power, its ability to exert influence without using force or capital. The U.S. has been successful in leveraging its soft power, and has been attracting people and money from around the world. Now, it's time for African countries.