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by Jan-Marc Lischka. Originally published on LinkedIn on 30.06.2020

Last week marked an important step for me and my team. We signed all necessary documents to register Manuyoo as a startup in Berlin’s new Siemensstadt. It’s the result of the past year’s hard work – a big thankyou to my co-founders, and many engaged advisors and supporters!

The whole story began during the Summit of Minds 2019 in the beautiful mountains north of Yerevan, Armenia. During these days, I engaged in several discussions with a Nigerian friend and others on the situation in Africa. My question was: what is the best contribution I as a European citizen can make, in order to support Africa becoming „The Africa we want“, as described in Agenda 2063. Why? Because I believe we Europeans carry a special obligation, given the still lasting impact of our colonial past.

What is it? What can we contribute?

Vote the "right" politicians? Increase national budgets on development Aid? Double our donations to charity organizations? All that didn’t seem to me a satisfactory answer. We need different answers. We need answers so easy anyone can understand and contribute each day. One of the easiest decisions we all make is the decision on the products we buy. Having spent my entire career in Manufacturing and Supply Chain, I know how important it is, where things are made. Manufacturing creates jobs, drives development, inspires to innovate. Manufacturing makes people proud of what they achieve. The „Made in…“ carries a message, with the products themselfs as ambassadors for the qualities their Origin has. We Germans know that very well.

How much „Made-in-Africa“ do we use every day?

I know many people who couldn’t name a single product imported from one of the 54 African countries. Perfectly reflected in global trade figures: if we look into 2018’s imports into the EU, only 7% came from Africa (the German figure is with 2% even worse). If this isn’t enough, more than 2/3 of the imported goods were primary goods (food, raw material and energy) – with almost no value add in Africa.

Usually at that point a hen-and-egg discussion kicks in. Do we buy so few African products because they aren’t competitive (e.g. poor Quality, overexpensive Logistics, …) – or are they not competitive because we don’t buy them?

Let’s break that circle.

This is why we founded Manuyoo. We, this is a dedicated team of experienced industry, marketing and journalism professionals. We are working for a paradigm shift towards the African continent. Creating a positive image of Africa, celebrating its diversity and driving its competitiveness – by bringing Africa’s greatest products to the European market.

With Manuyoo we share what we found: Africa is a continent of opportunities, progress and innovation. A continent full of optimism, courage and hope. A continent with proud, innovative and brave Entrepreneurs. A source of great products you might not find in a fair-trade shop. Products we truly want to buy. Products that proudly define „Made-in-Africa“. We want to promote them, give them a stage, support their way into the European market. For us, doing business on eye-level is the best way to promote economic development.

Our next steps

To launch the first collection of products into the German market via our upcoming Crowdfunding. At the same time, our Magazine will be published (actually it will be a “Magalog” – a hybrid between Magazine and Catalog) – presenting you our partners, their brands, their businesses, their stories. Created by award-winning journalists and designers.

Follow us here on LinkedIn. Spread the word. Buy Made-in-Africa.

The authors

Published on: 30.06.2020