SELLING PRODUCTS ON INSTAGRAM
By Paul Ndiho
Social Media is revolutionizing the way people do business in Africa. It allows young entrepreneurs to create labels and brands via the internet. Meet a college student dubbed the Instagram queen.
Twenty-three-year-old Rachel Apusiyene, is a law student at the University of Ghana in Accra. She is a budding businesswoman and the creator and lead designer of her own label, Bonnet Haven.
“I started when I was twenty-one, I started marking them by myself with just twenty pieces, and we’ve grown to what we’re now. I got money from my savings because my parents always sent me an allowance and I would always save a few Ghana Cedi’s here and there. That’s what I used to start my business with twenty pieces and an Instagram page.”
Known in her neighborhood of Achimota, a town in the Accra Metropolitan District, as the Instagram queen, she has become an internet sensation. With help from her younger brother, Rachel has turned her parent’s living room into a showroom for Bonnet Haven.
“From June to date, we’ve sold close to 1000 pieces.” Apusiyene sells her Bonnets for about 30 Ghanaian Cedi’s or about six U.S. dollars, enough money to increase her business.
“This is my page Bonnet Haven; on my page, you would find my username, things I sale in my bio, and a link that would take you straight to my WhatsApp when you tap on it. I have it on me every day, and I want to be a quick responder. I want to be able to respond to my customers quickly. I take photos of my products. Here is my latest baby. It’s silk. I sent it to one of my customers to say thank you for her royalty.”
It wasn’t until Apusiyene took a photography class and learned how to take and post-professional pictures on her Instagram page that people started taking her seriously. “Before, I had the page, the pictures where not professional. But the minute I posted professional ones, people took interest because I appeared serious. And that’s how it started.”
Building Bonnet Haven has been tough for Apusiyene, but with help from her family, a support network of other women entrepreneurs, and her trusted delivery guy, she is optimistic that things will get better. She hopes that one day her product will be in the hands of millions of new customers. Franklin Owusu Karikari, Director of Business Support and Policy — and National Entrepreneurship and Innovation programs, says young entrepreneurs like Rachel have a unique opportunity to access an international market and make money.
“What I want to tell young people is that when your business fails, that’s a great opportunity for you to backtrack and access yourself where you went wrong and bounce back again. Because of the mistakes, I made in my first business, I have to be able to avoid them with the new businesses that I have set up, and for the last ten years, our businesses have been able to withstand the test of time.”
Africa has the one world’s fastest-growing telecom markets and analysts say internet-based mobile solutions are helping boost development and growth on the continent. For Rachel and other African entrepreneurs who are tapping into the power of social media mobile technology, the sky is the limit.