Ghanaian Samuel Mensah is founder and CEO of KISUA, an innovative ecommerce platform offering exclusive African inspired fashion online to global consumers. Here is his homecomer story.
Prior to founding KISUA, I was Africa Director for Intel Capital (the investment arm of computer chip maker Intel), investing in innovative African technology companies and start-ups. I hold an MA in Economics and Management from Oxford University.
I was inspired to start KISUA because Africa has over one billion people but no iconic fashion brand. The continent’s fashion industry therefore holds enormous opportunity and potential.
How many times have we seen African inspired fashion popping up on catwalks around the globe by designers who have no real connection to Africa? African fashion went global while we were sleeping and we had nothing to do with it.
That is why KISUA is changing the narrative. I believe we can have an African Zara or H&M. The women who shop with us do it because it enables them to express their core identities.
The gifting of fabric is a traditional symbol of friendship in many African cultures. Working and travelling across the continent, I would often pick up textiles to give to friends & family. However, in today’s fast-moving times, I realized that without the time to visit a tailor, these fabrics would often be stored away. I began buying readymade clothes instead, and before long, people were trying to place orders with me & offering me money to purchase things on their behalf.
This was my lightbulb moment, recognizing a gap in the market for a business that supplied good quality, contemporary African fashion not just to the continent but a global audience.
What I realized is it wasn’t that the demand for such products was lacking but that Africa didn’t possess the infrastructure to support the supply. Costs of production and distribution are high which makes it almost impossible for African designers to tap into the global market. Addressing this has been one of the key principles of the KISUA business model
What we aim to do is provide great quality garments at the same time as giving designers the means to be seen and heard and the chance to make money too. We provide a commercial platform that helps them grow and open doors that may otherwise remain closed.
We are trying to break the mould and want the creative people of this continent to help us shape the new African aesthetic.