The concept behind Dubaruba is a wonderful one, showcasing the work of some of Africa’s most talented designers and brands to a discerning European marketplace and who are often not widely known outside their own countries. Founded by two passionate and dedicated women entrepreneurs, Aidam Emnay, originally from Eritrea, and her business partner, Anne-Sophie Wass, Dubaruba celebrates the finest in contemporary African design and products.
At Lionesses of Africa, we heard great things about the Dubaruba platform and recently got the opportunity to speak to Adiam Emnay, one of its founders and herself a member of the diaspora, to learn more about it.
Tell us a little more about Dubaruba
Dubaruba is an online platform created to showcase beautiful design items from African designers who produce their products in Africa. We bring those products to Europe and promote and market them in the German speaking countries of Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
"I get the most satisfaction when customers buy the products just because they like them, and without thinking they want to support Africa."
- Aidam Emnay
What inspired you to start the company?
I was born in Eritrea, raised partly in Ethiopia, and then came to Europe at a young age. After I studied Economics with my focus being on International Development, I was not happy about how Africa was presented. I knew the only way to practically support Africa would be to support production, but at the same time I did not want to support development aid which saw Africa and Africans as helpless individuals. I started consciously buying African products six years ago, but I focused on those products which I could integrate into my daily life. I did not want to have typical traditional products or Artifacts that one usually associates with Africa.
What makes the Dubaruba platform so unique?
Our platform offers access to African design and produced items that they would not usually have access to in Europe. The designers we feature on our Dubaruba platform are talented and offer not only beautifully unique, but also high quality products. What makes it special is that customers have the opportunity to find out who produced their items and under which conditions they were produced on the African continent.
Tell us a little about your team
We are a two-woman business. Myself and my partner, Anne-Sophie Wass, who is an Austrian artist and responsible for the creative part of the company, like taking pictures and preparing designs.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I was always interested in trying things out and realizing ideas. When I started working for the Austrian Venture Fund, Speedinvest, an early stage seed fund organisation that supports startups, my only motivation was to learn how to start a company of my own. My goal was to see how things are done, and after two years of experience I dared to start my own company.
"I hope to offer more products from more African countries and give designers access to the European market."
- Aidam Emnay
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
My plans are to see Dubaruba prosper and make it to the space where people go to get special items made in Africa. I hope to offer more products from more African countries and give designers access to the European market.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I get the most satisfaction when customers buy the products just because they like them, and without thinking they want to support Africa. When they just ignore the fact that it is from Africa, and instead simply focus on the beauty and function of the item, that shows me that they value the work done by our designers.
"Do not start a business only for the money, because you will lose your motivation easily if you experience failure."
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
If you have an idea and dream then just realise it. Do not be afraid to fail. You will learn many things on the go. Only calculate your risks - it pays off to lose time and money in order to realise your dreams. Do not start a business only for the money, because you will lose your motivation easily if you experience failure.
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Why LoA loves it….
What we love about Dubaruba and this amazing platform promoting the best of contemporary African design talent, is that it is founded by two women entrepreneurs who are passionate about great design, and have a real appreciation for what makes African design so special and unique. They also have a great eye for the type of design pieces that will resonate with the European marketplace, and therefore are able to offer a truly powerful platform and the right positioning to African contemporary women designer looking to showcase their work to these buyers. --- Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and editor-in-chief