Ozwald Boateng is chairman of the KISUA advisory board and brings over 25 years of experience in the fashion world with him. The British Ghanaian, self-taught designer became the youngest - and first black - tailor to join Savile Row in 1994 at the age of 28. Since then he’s received an OBE and enjoyed a tenure as creative director of Givenchy Homme.
Now he is turning his attentions to trade in Africa. The Made In Africa Foundation, a new initiative co-created by Boateng, has as its sole objective to fund feasibility studies for infrastructure projects across the continent.
“What I find attractive about KISUA is that it manufactures in Africa. With manufacturing and distribution managed by the experts, the designers are free to create and all sales are online. The brand has a very clear strategy for growth, which is something I support. My role is to advise on strategy and potential partnerships.”
On marketing African style to the world:
“China, Japan and India have all marketed their styles globally but Africa hasn’t taken advantage of its own style yet, despite a real appetite for quality African products. It’s time to package and sell African creativity to the rest of the world. Africa is 54 countries so when you look at this lovely texture of cultures there is endless opportunity - and that for me is what KISUA is initiating.”
On his African aesthetic and expansion:
“When I started out my main influence was British tailoring and finding ways to make it interesting through cut, details and color. It turned out that the way I used color was very similar to African prints and designs but I didn’t even realize I was doing it at the time. Then in the last 10 years, I’ve been feeling very passionate about Africa and African development. As a consequence, that creative influence has become more apparent in my work. I also feel a responsibility to expand my business in Africa.”
On the Made In Africa Foundation:
“I’ve learnt from experience that even when you have a valuable asset in Africa, it is very difficult to raise money to develop it. So I set up The Made In Africa Foundation. We’re aiming to raise $500m and develop around 51 infrastructural projects (technology, roads, energy) that the African Development Bank has defined as transformational for the continent. We will fund the feasibility plans enabling the projects to secure finance. The resources are there, it’s just a matter of overcoming the hurdles to unlocking them.”
Image: Morgan O’Donovan