How African Products Can Make Big Business in the West

Posted by Patrick Gaincko | November 7, 2018
african wax prints patrick gaincko

If you have paid attention to some of the world’s top lifestyle magazines lately, you might have noticed the recurring appearance of bold, colourful, intricately patterned cloth called “African wax prints”. Wax has been a wardrobe staple in Africa since the early 20th century, but in recent years it’s being increasingly embraced by the mainstream in the West.

From Europe to America, wax used to be a strictly fashion affair confined to diaspora fashion designers and low-profile exotic themed events. Now it forms collections of global luxury fashion houses, expands to accessories, handbags, interior design, and travel gear; and stars in TV shows and large-scale tradeshows. Wax is embarking on a new journey in the spotlight, bringing opportunities at the intersection of design, business, and fashion.

But Western consumers regularly see trends come and go: can wax become more of a lasting thing? How can Africa-based/-inspired fashion industry from manufacturers to designers to entrepreneurs, capitalize on the momentum and create serious business with the mainstream? Beyond fashion, how can African products and brands crack international markets?



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Food Trend: Sophisticated Local Food, Côte d’Ivoire

Posted by Patrick Gaincko | July 5, 2018
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The Connected Young Woman: Adverts vs Reality

Posted by Patrick Gaincko | April 1, 2018
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One element of the urban landscape in Africa that’s fast evolving is advertisements (not so much the infrastructure, but that’s another debate). As huge billboards – ever bigger, more flashy, more present, more inevitable – accompany me across my field research, a question becomes inevitable: how representative of the reality are they? How in-sync with fast changing lifestyles are they?

So let’s look for an answer when it comes to the hyper-connected, active, urban young woman. Both pictures in this short piece are situations in the Congo region (two countries), one is a billboard in a main avenue in DR Congo, the other shows an entrepreneur at a conference in Congo Brazzaville.

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Working Women, Congo Brazzaville

Posted by Patrick Gaincko | December 8, 2017
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As I’m Mentoring at the Global Entrepreneurship Week

Posted by Patrick Gaincko | December 3, 2017
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Inside My Mentorship at the Women Entrepreneurs Day

Posted by Patrick Gaincko | November 24, 2017
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How to Do the Most with Less in Africa: Radisson Blu

Posted by Patrick Gaincko | November 13, 2017
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“I am launching Inspiring Expeditions to go where people haven’t been before or go differently (..) I’m zeroing in on seeing unusual things and unusual animals while we still have them” said Geoffrey Kent to the New York Times recently. As the founder and CEO of the luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent (350 tours in more than 100 countries), Mr Kent has accompanied Prince Charles in Oman, designed a China trip for Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and experimented with space travel. When it came to list the very few unique places he is yet to see, the insatiable explorer said, “the Congo”.

The Republic of the Congo is widely regarded as one of Africa’s greatest gems thanks to its pristine, untouched, lush nature. As home to the world’s second largest rainforest and to some of the last populations of gorillas and elephants, the Congo is a recurrent, magnetic feature in Western popular culture from Hollywood movies to literature and comics.

Yet, for all its pure natural magnificence and its mythical status, the Congo is one the world’s least visited countries. In 2010 and 2014 the country has received as low as 194,000 and 224,000 international tourists respectively.

On the back of steady economic growth in the early 2000’s, the Congo became a rising platform for foreign investors and international events. Subsequently, the capital city Brazzaville has seen an acceleration in the construction of luxury hotels, including global brands such as Radisson Blu and Kempinski (opening soon).

But today, hit hard by the slump in the prices of oil (which represents 65 percent of Congo’s GDP), the country is in a severe economic recession. According to Unicongo, a local trade association, the occupancy rate at hotels is only 25-35 percent in 2017.

In such a dire situation, with many challenges and unknowns, how does a big-brand hotel make the most of their investment? More broadly, how risky is it to enter and operate in an untapped, unequipped, underserved market?

To find out, I have field-researched in the Congo, visited various hotspots, interviewed several tourists, and investigated inside the Radisson Blu Brazzaville. CONTINUE READING HERE.


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