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The trade barrier in our minds

by Jan-Marc Lischka. First published on MEDIUM on 06.10.2020

High performance running shoes from Kenya, boutique chocolate from Ghana, innovative palm liquor from Benin. Just a few examples of current products ‘Made in Africa’. Products that few people in Europe ever heard of, let alone bought.

However there are good reasons to buy products from the 55 African countries:

Read why, here

A lot to discover

The African continent is on the move. A creative youth with a strong will to change, and everything that makes a successful entrepreneur: A wealth of ideas, willingness to take risks, pride in what has been achieved.


Buying products with local added value is way more sustainable than development aid. Entrepreneurial activity creates jobs, innovation and structures. And every job created in the supply chain adds 5–10 jobs in the local community, from the bus driver to the restaurant chef.

Much to learn

Let’s just take the example of female Entrepreneurship: while in Germany only 14% of startups are founded by women, entrepreneurship in Africa is often female. Our female-found partner companies provide an impressive role model. It is worth opening our eyes to it.

If it’s that easy… just do it.

Unfortunately it is not (yet) that easy:

The way into the European shopping cart is still difficult for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). There are many things to consider when importing into the EU, to ensure a product meets our requirements. From product safety to the minimal text size on the packaging. There SMEs from outside the EU need support.

The logistic connection to the African continent: Shipping a whole container from Accra is much more expensive than from Shanghai. When entering the market, often smaller quantities are involved: usually only the airplane remains an option, which basically ruins any product calculation. Creative solutions are required here.

The barrier in our minds

The third and strongest trade barrier is in our minds: As long as we first think of starving children when we hear Ethiopia, as long as we associate absurd spam mails when we hear of Nigeria, as long as we think that the successful Entrepreneur of Ghanaian origin must be the cleaning person or the DJ. As long as this happens, it is hard to get enthusiastic about a high-quality product from Africa. Until then, little will change in the fact that the majority of the already low value of imports from Africa to the EU (2018: 7%) are raw products. And as long as that remains, we will have to deal with the pressing question of how to best “help” the global South.

We founded Manuyoo to give a different impulse. Our aim is transformation, is change. But the focus is not on Africa. It is on Europe. Change must happen here. In our attitude, in our mindset. And in our buying behavior. That’s why we bring excellent products from the 55 African countries directly to our European customers. Curated and attractively presented. We tell the stories of the people behind the products. Read them in our magazine, staged by award-winning journalists and graphic designers. Ready to retell, and to share in your social media. Manuyoo is about changing the narratives, moving away from the views of the last millennium, adopting a contemporary attitude and (consumer) behavior.

The Authors

Published on: 30.04.2021