COVID 19 RUINING LIVELIHOODS FOR MILLIONS IN AFRICA

Lock downs are saving lives, but ruining livelihoods for millions in Africa. VOA’s Paul Ndiho via Skype to Paul Orajiaka, CEO of Auldon Toys – a leading manufacturer of African themed toys “Unity Girl Dolls,”

Orajika has made his mark selling and manufacturing toys in perhaps one of the largest and busiest open-air markets in Africa called Idumota, located on Lagos Island. He talks about how COVID 19 has affected his business.

ZIMBABWEAN ENTREPRENEURS STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE UNDER COVID 19

Since the outbreak of the Corona virus, countries across the globe have struggled to contain the virus. It’s even more problematic in  Zimbabwe – from Hyperinflation to the Lock down, food shortages, and high unemployment. Restrictions on movement and business during Corona virus pandemic has hit ordinary people so hard. To get perspective of what is happening on the ground, VOA’s Paul Ndiho, via Skype, spoke to, Ivy Chimbwanda, an entrepreneur, based in Harare who says life is too hard.

INNOVATION VILLAGE UGANDA ADDRESSING CHALLENGES CAUSED BY COVID 19.

Young people in the east African nation of Uganda are creating new technologies and applications that are addressing challenges caused by COVID 19.

Innovation village offers a co-working space, training, mentoring, and helping entrepreneurs to launch their startups.

VOA’s Paul Ndiho spoke to C.K Japeth, CEO, and Founder, Innovation Village Hub in Kampala, Uganda.

iSpace Ghana’s Innovation and Technology Hub

By Paul Ndiho

Young people in the west African nation of Ghana are creating new technologies and applications that are driving the country’s economic growth and turning Ghana into a tech hub.Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 9.30.45 AM

Voice of America’s Paul Ndiho just returned from Ghana, where he caught up with Josiah Kwesi Eyison, co-founder and CEO of ispace, an innovation and technology hub in Accra, Ghana.

ispace offers a co-working space, training, mentoring, access to funding, and helping entrepreneurs to launch their startups and access markets.

GHANAIAN DESIGNER – MAKING CLOTHES FOR PLUS – SIZE WOMEN

By Paul Ndiho

A Ghanaian fashion designer launched her clothing line “Selina Beb” eight years ago.  Since then, she has created quite a buzz on the fashion scene in Accra.  Now, plus-size women who like to shop, but are worried about what to wear, and where to buy, are getting a custom-made shopping experience right at their doorsteps.   495c4925-2dce-44fb-b3fc-e7d90b9662c1

Designer Selina Bebaako-Mensah has always been a fashion fanatic.  She set out to be a lawyer, studying law in Britain, but didn’t like it and switched careers and went into radio broadcasting.  However, this was not for her either.  For fun, she decided to experiment with African fabrics and taught herself the art of designing high-end handbags and women’s clothing.

“When I moved back to Ghana in 2008, I noticed that African prints accessories were in Vogue. Everyone was using African prints for all sorts of things, for bags, for jewelry, and not just for clothes. I said, wow, it encouraged me, and they were durable, stylish, and nice. So, I was like, maybe I should venture into it.”

Her creative designs blend a mix of vibrant African prints and high-quality leather to create a dazzling array of handbags that she names after her favorite clients.

“This is another unique design named after one of my clients. They deserve to be honored because they’re Loyal to me, and some of them have been with me even before I had a shop.

Since launching her label, Selina Bed – the derived from her maiden name. “Bebaako,” which means another warrior in her native language Krachi, from the Oti region of Ghana.  She spends a lot of time behind the scenes creating new styles.  But, she also likes to wear her own designs.

“I have always loved accessories. As a plus-size woman, it’s had to find stylish clothes sometimes. But I realized with accessories; I could always accessorize my clothes to make them more stylish. Like what I’m wearing today is quite plain, but with my bold statement accessories, it makes it stylish.”

Bebaako-Mensah has participated in several fashion shows, showcasing innovative, unique, and cutting-edge fashion designs.

 “The reason I started a clothing line was not that my customers where asking for it. But I had a challenge as a plus-size woman, finding clothes in my size and a lot of people who are in my size, they tell me, find it difficult finding clothes in their sizes. And that was also another inspiration and the reason I started my line, and so because of that, my clothes come in big sizes as well. We the UK sizes 8 -22 so women on who is on the large size can find clothes in our shop.”

Adiza Ibrahim Sadia, one of Selina’s’ clients, says she wants to be associated with the brand because it makes her feel good.

“I like to feel good, when I look good myself, I feel good, so anything beautiful I want to be attached to it. For example, this is 100% leather, the fabric is GTB, and the beads are handmade.”

Afia Addo- Ghedemah, another client, says the day she wore this outfit, people were blown away because of its uniqueness.

“It’s not so easy to be outside of what would be called the normal bracket to walk into a shop and purchase clothes that would fit and fit right. One of the things that I appreciate about this Selina Beb brand is that they have maintained to the truth of the tagline which is they want to make things for the everyday woman. The everyday woman comes in all different shapes and sizes.”

Faith Senam Ocloo, notes that Selina’s ability to design a variety of prints has given her limitless opportunities to show her creativity and grow her client base.

“When you walk into Selina Beb shop, your jewelry, hand bracelets like the one I’m wearing. For instance, I’m wearing something lay back with a white. So, I add a bit of color with my neckpiece and earrings as well. So, I get something with a little bit of African handmade beads, nixed with local pearls, bronze, and gold. You find something that fits your style.”

Bebaako-Mensah attributes her success to her family and other supporters who pushed her to pursue her dream of working in the fashion industry.  As Selina Beb’s label expands Bebaako says her brand will play a significant role in inspiring the next generation of young designers.

GHANAIAN TECH FIRM MPIDEGREE FIGHTS COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS

 

By Paul Ndiho

The global counterfeit trade accounts for more than $200 billion dollars annually.  The World Health Organization says nearly 42 percent of all fake medicines reported in the last five years were from Africa.  But now the Ghanaian social enterprise technology company mPedigree is working with manufacturers to weed out counterfeit products in the African market. Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 9.01.00 AM

Tens of thousands of people across Africa die each year because of fake and counterfeit medication.  The drugs are primarily made in China, India, Paraguay, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. Nearly 50 percent of the fake and low-quality medicines reported to the World Health Organization were found to be in sub-Saharan Africa.  Eugene Boadu, in charge of Corporate Affairs and Marketing at mPedigree says his company has created technology that will detect counterfeit products.

“Counterfeiting has become a global problem, essentially giving the pornification of various forms of technology. Just about anything can be counterfeited. From your favorite clone to you piece of shirt. But the stakes are higher when the item being counterfeited is one that has life depending implications such medicines.”

The worldwide counterfeit drug market is linked to more than 700-thousand deaths every year, according to health studies, making it the most lucrative trade of illegally manufactured goods.  Boadu says mPedigree technology has been designed to empower patients — and save lives.

“Our company, a little over a decade ago, proposed a bold solution to the medicinal counterfeiting problem in particular that by allowing end-user authentication, we can allow consumers and patients to be able to sift out counterfeit from an original one.”

“We have seen about 2 billion product authentications that mean 2 billion times that consumers have had to dispel doubts and fears and have been able to pick the right product out of what would have been a counterfeit one.”

Drugs protected through mPedigree carry a short-code that is revealed through scratching a specific area of the packaging.

“When you scratch this, there are some numbers, and you send this unique I.D free via text message on their smartphones to the 1393 via SMS, and you will immediately receive a message to verify the drug’s authenticity.”

The fact that I can check and know that it’s genuine, it gives better assurance and trust in the technology. I was able even to get the expiry date so that I can confirm that – So this is very good.

Since launching in 2008, the mPedigree has expanded its platform to more than 14 countries in Africa and Asia.  The tech firm has also diversified into a wide range of products, ensuring authenticity — and providing businesses and consumers comfort in knowing that what they’re selling and buying is authentic.

We have pivoted from Medicine, and counterfeiting to other areas like Agriculture. Where we are now working with different ministries of Agriculture to serialize parts of seeds and ensure that farmers are buying the right seeds and not buying fake seeds planting them and discovering down the line that they’re sold a knockoff version of the seeds.”

Experts say that the lack of proper monitoring of imported drugs in many parts of Africa, is allowing counterfeiting criminals to cash in on a continent constantly battling various diseases and poverty.

 

How Ghanaian Tech Guru Farida Bedwei succeed against all odds

By Paul Ndiho

The phrase disability is not inability. In our first African women in tech series, we feature Farida Bedwei, a celebrated Ghanaian Software engineer, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Logiciel, a company that develops technology solutions that promote financial inclusion for the unbanked. Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 8.53.02 AM

Farida bedwei, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one.  In this interview, she shares her inspiring story. Her ability to succeed against all odds is remarkable. 

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