Entrepreneur co-founders, Natasha Buchler and Annie Rudnick, have just launched Akojo Market, a new online platform dedicated to raising awareness of design talent from across the African continent, and connecting them to global buyers. Since going live on 1 April 2019, Akojo Market has built a community of incredible designers and loyal customers, all committed to shopping ethically and supporting independent business promoting African culture and development. This entrepreneurial duo sell products from 19 designers, 17 are female founded businesses. The product ranges come from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, DRC, South Africa and Morocco.
Speaking about the launch of the new Akojo Market platform, Natasha and Annie said:
“We are proud to be selling unique and beautiful accessories, clothing and homeware made by emerging brands from Africa or with a link to African culture. Each brand has been carefully vetted and selected for their ethical mindset and positive impact on the communities around them. These brands contribute to the development of society and growth of legitimate industry in a variety of ways - ensuring workers and artisans are well paid, not hiring forced, child or prison labour, refusing to cut corners, considering the environmental impact of manufacturing and use of certain materials, donating a portion of profits to local charities and more.”
Akojo Market has been launched with specific social impact objectives at its core and this is what makes it different. Natasha and Annie say its unique differentiators include:
We put our designers first. AKOJO MARKET is a third party platform and we exist purely to showcase brands that we verify are operating sustainable and ethical business models, whilst producing high quality, unique products.
To help our designers grow, we have agreed not to take commission on any sales until 2020. This gives small companies the chance to sell internationally whilst taking all the profits, reinvesting in compliance processes and disbursing proceeds amongst their artisans and community projects.
Our due diligence checks draw on the founders' wealth of experience in the field of background checks. We ask tough but necessary questions of our designers, including who is making the products, how they are made, the materials and processes. Our free, downloadable due diligence guidance is published on our website, found on the APPROACH page.
There is no platform similar to us in the UK or Europe and we look forward to expanding our reach soon.
Akojo Market held a successful launch event at the start of June 2019, welcoming guests from fashion, marketing, journalism, politics and business. The event exhibited all of the designers through photos, products and video streaming. Guests heard from Manitou Nsaka, founder of brand Duarra, on the importance of reviving centuries old traditional weaving in DRC.
The aspirations for Akojo Market include raising awareness for designers and increasing their sales globally; being transparent about how Akojo Market does business and how its designers carry out their operations; meeting the growing demands of consumers wishing to shop responsibly, and making it easier for customers to shop multiple African brands in one place, knowing they are contributing to the development of artisans and their communities; and promoting African culture in an authentic manner - as directly presented by the designers themselves from Africa.
Interested customers can view and purchase this curated range of products by some of the most talented designers on the continent by visiting www.akojomarket.com/shop
“Shop quality handmade products from emerging African designers promoting sustainability and ethical practices" — Natasha Buchler and Annie Rudnick, founders of AKOJO MARKET
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