One cannot go too far these days without hearing the ubiquitous vibes of Afrobeat. Just look to the song of the summer, Wizkid’s Essence, which even got the Beiber treatment.
It’s just one example of creative crossover as many things that we Africans have treasured and enjoyed for generations reach peak mainstream popularity–and with it a keen interest in all things African.
The modern African aesthetic is being celebrated and amplified internationally like never before, with major heritage brands, celebrity chefs and tech companies looking to the continent as a source of constant inspiration.
Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie respectfully took the literary baton from Chinua Achebe and has awakened a new generation with her books. Beyoncé featured Adichie on Lemonade, and then went on to tap top-tier creative talent, such as Blitz Bazawule, Trevor Stuurman, Kwasi Fordjour, Joshua Kissi, Zerina Akers and other visionaries from across the diaspora, for her visual album Black is King. It won an Emmy Award for outstanding costumes last month.
Perpetual cool kid, Virgil Ablor, the Ghanaian American creative director for Louis Vuitton Mens and Off White, styled poet laureate Amanda Gorman in his custom Vuitton Kente cloth collection for a recent cover of American Vogue.
Artist Kehinde Wiley’s artist residency, Black Rock in Dakar, has attracted cultural luminaries to visit Senegal.
And queen of the catwalk Naomi Campbell has literally revived her personal brand through her travel and connection with the continent from her sprawling pied a terre in Malindi, Kenya.
Africa is no doubt experiencing a renaissance and creatives all around the world are taking notice. While there is no shortage of brilliance on the continent, capital, management and infrastructure support required to leverage the talent of Africa’s creative industry is a challenge.
In fact, even though “Africa’s cultural goods sector is estimated to employ about half a million people and is expected to contribute $4.2 billion to the continent’s revenue … only 1.1 percent of the total African start-up investment was received by the cultural and creative industries in 2019,” wrote Cheryl Ankrah Newton of Illuminate Africa Group Ltd in this recent dispatch on the importance of investing in Africa’s creative economy.
That’s where visionary business leader Roberta Annan comes in with Impact Fund for African Creatives (IFFAC), an African-focused permanent investment vehicle initiative that will be unveiled this October.
IFFAC will focus on development of creatives across the 16 sub-sectors of Africa’s cultural and creative industry by the awarding of grants to provide early seed capital to nurture creative businesses into sustainable enterprises. Awards from 10,000 euro to 50,000 euro will be given to selected businesses in areas including architecture, interior design, visual design, product development, fashion, film, animation and video, photography, craft culinary, music, publishing, advertising, visual and performing arts, television and radio. Awardees who are selected into the Induction and Mentorship program will then be eligible for capital investments between 250,000 and 2,000,000 euros.
On Oct. 4, during Paris Fashion Week, IFFAC will unveil the first of its portfolio companies at a stylish reception at the Mona Bismarck Mansion. Nigerian fashion designer Kenneth Ize; Ethos, a private members club and community for African creatives; EBōNY Skincare Group- Mansa Beauty; and “The Ambassadors Collection,” born from African Fashion Foundation’s retreat will support a select group of emerging African fashion brands, including Adama Paris, Orange Culture, EMMY Kasbit, Elie Kuame and Bello Edo.
You’ve seen Papama Mtwisha’s slogan across all types of merchandise and now the action plan is in place – Africa: Your Time is Now!