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Monday, October 16, 2017

5 Apps Built by African Women, by Tatiana Kombo

Women entrepreneurs are a key driving force in Africa’s current and future prosperity. Sustainable economic development depends on gender equality, the empowerment of women, and the amplification of their voices and entrepreneurial endeavours. Several initiatives, such as She Leads Africa continue to successful foster a culture of business innovation among African women. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Africa has the highest number of women entrepreneurs relatively to other continents. These five applications are examples of contributions African women have made to the tech space in their native countries, thus accelerating their economic empowerment:
  1. FashPa Online
Founder Honey Ogundeyi is revolutionising online retail in Africa with FashPa, which is short for “fashion parade.” By becoming an important contributor to the Nigerian fashion market, as well as its tech industry, she is intent on ensuring a legacy of first class retail business in Africa, by Africans.
  1. Jumia Ivory Coast/Jumia Nigeria
Founder Fatoumata Ba launched her online retail platform Jumia Ivory Coast in 2013. Soon after, it became the fastest growing African e-commerce site with more than 500,000 monthly unique visitors. Fatoumata later took on the role of  Managing Director at Jumia Nigeria, the largest e-commerce site on the continent in market share, employees and revenues. Customers across Africa have the opportunity to purchase everything from consumer electronics, to  fashion, home appliances and beauty products. She is currently in the Jumia Executive Committee, and has been featured in Forbes Africa 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, amongst other notable awards.
  1. Lizzie’s Creations
Founder Elizabeth Kperuun created her company in order to develop mobile and web applications aimed at the education and development of women and children in Africa. Lizzie’s Creations utilizes digital innovation to educate children on their continent’s languages, heritage and history. The Nigerian company is best known for its interactive storytelling app, “AfroTalez.” More recently, Lizzie’s Creations has launched “Teseem,” an app that teaches young children their first words in Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and English.
  1. Loue 1 Voiture
Founder Nour Drissi’s company is the first online platform that allows you to reserve a car from hire companies in Morocco. The company provides full service car rental at the most affordable rates in order to save time. Loue 1 Voiture, French for “rent a car,” accompanies you through the car rental process, offering comprehensive pricing comparisons over thousands of offers, therefore making it significantly easier and safer to successfully select and book a car.
  1. Tress
Co-founders Priscilla Hazel, Esther Olatunde and Cassandra Sarfo, all software developers, created a social community mobile app targeted at black women seeking hair inspiration and advice. Hailing from Ghana and Nigeria, the female trio wanted to  address the lack of information on the styling of black hair, providing their users with stunning visuals of hairstyles, as well as specific information on products, stylists and pricing in their localities. Addressing diversity within the black community, the app refreshingly feature a range of natural hairstyles.

Photocredit WOC in Tech Stock Images 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Angela of NaturAngi: Blogger of Italy’s Natural Hair Movement By Candice Whitney

Angela of NaturAngi

At the beginning of 2014, the natural hair movement in Italy took off through blogs and online communities on social media. Inspired by the natural hair movements in the US, UK, France and Belgium, AfroItalian online influencers such as Angela Haisha Adamou of NaturAngi and Evelyne of Nappytalia launched their pages to increase knowledge about self-love and to build networks amongst AfroItalians, or African descendants living in Italy. In a country where the politics of AfroItalian belonging are only at the beginning of getting explored, these online resources represent some of the few places where the intersection of AfroItalian identity and womanhood are discussed through hair care. Angela’s decision to launch in January 2014 was inspired by not only movements she witnessed in the other parts of Europe and the United States, but by her life experiences in Italy as an Italian with Ghanaian roots. On her award winning blog NaturAngi, she offers tutorials, product reviews, advice, and suggestions on where to find products in Italian and English. My conversation with Angela focused on various aspects of the natural hair movement in Italy, such as the importance of representation and how her experience from a small town shapes her role as a natural hair blogger.

Angela’s first book, Love is in the Hair, Volume 1, Consigli per aver ricci belli, sani e senza capricci, was published in June 2017. The book is available on Amazon in both Kindle e-book format and in print. 

Representation Matters

Initially started as her space to share about the beginning of natural hair care journey after doing a big chop, her blog became a space where other women with curl afro hair in Italy would be able to find themselves represented in the hair care and beauty fields.
The needs of AfroItalian women are excluded at stores that sell hair or cosmetic products, as tints and the like are not available in dark tones. Angela describes AfroItalians as a “hidden community” not yet prioritized by major beauty companies. Even though LancĂ´me has been selling darker skin tones for years, these products are often of higher cost, compared to those sold by KIKO Milano. “When I went to KIKO to find products for a make up tutorial workshop I organized, I found affordable dark skinned tints. At KIKO, I matter.”

Representation is the essence of Angela’s blog, as well as other blogs and e-commerce sites such as Nappytalia, AfroItalian Souls, and AfroOn Hair Addict. Even though Italy does not conduct racial or ethnic statistics, research by the country’s national statistics committee, ISTAT, states that nearly 20%, or 1 million of the country’s immigrants are African. Much of Italy’s African population comes from West African countries such as Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana. These online influencers and e-commerce sites demonstrate how hair is political in Italy, specifically that Africans and AfroItalians are integral to the country and must be considered as valuable members of Italian society.

Angela and the founders team of the online magazine AfroItalian Souls. L-R:
Naths Grazia Sukubo, Angela Haisha Adamou, Bellamy Okot
Photo Credit: Angela Haisha Adamou

Experience as a natural hair blogger in Italy

Angela launched NaturAngi as a platform to inspire people to learn more about how to take care of natural hair, and to develop a network of other AfroItalians across the country who were learning to take care of their natural hair. She shared that most Africans and African descendants in Italy have been pressured to relax their hair, as that has been taught as easier to manage. Through NaturAngi, Angela promotes knowledge of taking care of natural hair. “If you don’t know the ways you can take of your natural hair, then how can you choose which styles are best for you? If you don’t know, you’re not free.” NaturAngi promotes the value of hair care knowledge to make the best informed decision about which hairstyles to wear.

Coming from a small town in the northeastern region of the Emilia Romagna, she used her blog as a means to reach out to other bloggers and learn from them as well. Many of her contemporaries are based in metropolitan areas, such as Milan and Rome. Most immigrant families and their children are spread out across cities in the country, compared to segregation in the United States and France. Due to the dispersement of AfroItalian communities, Italian based e-commerce sites for natural hair products have also emerged, such as Vanity Case, Nappytalia and AfroRicci, and ship to the doors of their customers.

The team of Roots Evolution: Sofia Bodian, Aida Aicha Bodian, Fatou Bodian, and Fatou Coly, and Angela Haisha Adamou. Photo Credit: Angela Haisha Adamou

Angela uses the relatability of her experience as a black Italian in a small town to reach out to other AfroItalians across the country. “I try to be as natural as possible [on my blog and in my videos]. I film myself in situations when most people like me do their hair, such as tired after work at the end of the day and in front of the bathroom mirror.” Due to the collection of AfroItalians through online and social media spaces, the movement in Italy revolves around social influencers such as Angela and her contemporaries Evelyne of Nappytalia and Belsya Shabani of AfroOn. For individuals or businesses interested in reaching out to AfroItalians as a target consumer, Angela suggests to contact influencers in Italy to collaborate.

In addition to founding, Angela Haisha Adamou is the Secretary of the association Roots Evolution, co-organizer of the country’s first Afro Beauty & Fashion Expo, member of the country’s first national body for new generation Italians CoNNGI, and social media manager for the online community The Black Side of Beauty. She is also the author of the first e-book and guide dedicated to natural hair care in Italian, Love is in the Hair.

Written By Candice Whitney
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