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Manuyoo Values - Unique

Why Made-in-Africa is Unique

by Bianca Reichelt (10.05.2021)

The image that there are no high-quality or cool products made-in-Africa is pervasive. At Manuyoo, we set out to change this. Manuyoo seeks to find unique entrepreneurs; unique products and to share their unique stories. A uniquely local impact is created from purchasing these products. Buying Made-in-Africa products is a unique way in which consumers influence the way the world works, support start-up entrepreneurs and create sustainable impact.

Read more here why we have chosen Unique as one of our core values.

The basics

4 aspects come to mind when we look at ‘Unique’ as one of our core values.

1. Our unique Mission to focus on Manufactured products that are Made-in-Africa

2. Our unique business approach

3. Our unique quest to change attitudes and behaviours

4. Our unique products we bring to the European market.

Our quest is unique since Africa is not best known for its manufactured goods but rather for exporting mainly raw materials (70 percent of exports from Africa are raw materials). Manuyoo sets itself up to enable access to the European market for high quality goods that maximise value addition (not just raw materials export) in the African countries in which they are manufactured.

Our Unique Mission

Our Mission is to bring attention to the numerous quality products being made-in-Africa today.

Why is 'made-in-Africa' unique? Most of us cannot name any products that are not primary commodities and are made-in-Africa. We tend to associate African products with goods produced and exported by farmers with help from NGOs, micro-finance, and fair-trade advocates. However, African countries also do have sophisticated manufacturing facilities and established businesses such paper, furniture, textiles and garment manufacturing, food processing, leather tanning and footwear industries, , industrial components, automotive manufacturing etc. These projects are usually targeted through national, strategic industrial development policies and zones. They usually entail relatively large capital Investments and involve global players or transnational corporations.

Increasing sales helps them with spreading their fixed costs; providing more sustainable employment; make technological improvements; increase access to finance.

There is however a ‘missing middle’ that is even less served by ambitious investment plans or altruistic fair-trade/ micro-finance projects. This is the small or medium sized enterprise that plays an important role in creating employment and driving innovation. At the moment, only 1 in 5 Africans are employed for wages and the workers in manufacturing are 6 times as productive (output per worker) as those in agriculture. That is why the African-based entrepreneur is so strategically important.

These African entrepreneurs have creatively found niche business ideas that they have nurtured from ideation, to financing to bringing them as viable products to the market. For these entrepreneurs to succeed they need to find markets that demand their products. Increasing sales helps them with spreading their fixed costs; providing more sustainable employment; make technological improvements; increase access to finance. If this process repeats itself enough times, it can lead to economic development. Germany itself has an economy that is based on this very model. The ‘Mittelstand’ is evidence of how important SMEs are to the German economy.

There is also evidence that accessing export markets in addition to selling on the domestic and regional market exclusively, accelerates innovation and technological improvements. This may be partly due to the reality that export markets demand adherence to certain quality levels and production standards. These factors as well as the specific market intelligence needed to enter a foreign market are, however, often insurmountable barriers for small and medium size Entrepreneurs. Manuyoo plays the role of the intermediary that helps the African entrepreneurs to overcome these barriers.

Our Unique Business Approach

Working profitably together with African-based entrepreneurs on an equal footing and creating social impact is a unique.

Supporting made-in-Africa entrepreneurs as a profit with a purpose enterprise rather than as an NGO is also unique. There is indeed an emergence of businesses with purpose that aim to facilitate communities to access markets outside their local and regional ones. These focus on fairer trade of commodities that African producers have a comparative advantage in but due to the nature of the global trading system still struggle to trade fairly. The focus for these businesses is the Fair-Trade commodities market. There are also businesses and organisations that seek to support communities that focus on value creation in Africa. Often these efforts are also structured in such a way as to have the foreign business or NGO involved in the production and set up of the facilities in the African country. These efforts must indeed be applauded as they fill gaps or quirks of the global value chain that would otherwise cripple efforts by African communities to access foreign markets.

As Manuyoo we are however different from these initiatives. Manuyoo seeks to let African producers be the experts on for their specific products. They know their own context best, they develop the business idea, the business model, and the final products themselves. They bring the products to the local market themselves. This organic approach is important to ensure that the most viable business ideas and products are selected.

At Manuyoo, we position ourselves as the partner that operates on an equal footing with our African entrepreneurs. We keep our focus on market intelligence, logistics and access to a foreign market, whilst our Africa/based partners determine the specificities of their products. Manuyoo assists with testing for EU compliance when necessary and shares market and regulatory information with the partner. This creates a virtuous loop where the business idea generation, the products, the sourcing, the production methods etc. is determined by the Africa-based entrepreneur without the unnecessary intervention from non-local players. The challenges in accessing the European Market are then undertaken by Manuyoo which communicates closely with the African partner regarding standards, certification, and the market expectations. Manuyoo does not engage in white labelling. We let the people behind the brands shine.

It is this unique business model that lets the African partners be the experts at what they do and to work with them on an equal footing whilst building a business focussing on market access in Europe.

Our Unique quest to change attitudes/behaviour

The European consumer has changed his determination of what is important in the products he decides to spend his money on.

There is a growing realisation in Europe that there is power in consumption. We can decide which production method and which producers survive in our buying choices. In our quest to affect environmental policies, human rights as well as to change the world we live in and the rules that govern it, we are more and more choosing to spend our money on goods that are made locally, have a limited impact on the environment, are produced with due regard to human rights and fairly compensate the producers. This has been a gradual but substantial shift in consumer behaviour that has led to a change in the sourcing and production of many products. In addition to these noble quests Manuyoo seeks to add ‘made-in-Africa’ as a deserving priority that European consumers need to add to their list of priorities. This article here explains why this is important. (LINK Jan article)

Manuyoo’s quest is to challenge other European consumers to adding more made-in-Africa products in their monthly shopping carts, as gifts to friends and family or for corporate and community gifting ideas. We together, can be the change we want to see in the world.

Our Unique Products

Running shoes from Kenya do exist; Benin-made distilled Palm-wine to rival any world class liquors does exist; high quality fashion, cosmetics, foodstuffs, home décor that are made-in-Africa also exist. But to a large extent Europeans do not know about them or know where to find them. The image that there are no high-quality or cool products made-in-Africa is still pervasive. Manuyoo sets out to change this. Manuyoo seeks to find unique entrepreneurs and their unique products to you whilst sharing the stories behind the products and the local impact that buying those products creates.

The Authors

Published on: 19.05.2021