Development of cultural and creative industries in Africa

Development of cultural and creative industries in Africa. This is the mission of the Creative Africa program. Discover through the success stories of Biibop, craftsman of toys and educational materials for children, and stylist Sébastien Bazem with fabric rehabilitation Koko Dunda, how he contributed to the design of these brands.

“Equality today, for a sustainable future”. The French Development Agency (AFD) has decided to embody the theme of the International Women’s Rights Day 2022 in the long-term actions it has managed to support in the Sahel, for or by women.

An opportunity to highlight the impact of the Creative Africa program, funded by AFD and implemented by Africalia, through concrete examples of Biibop, pioneer of toys and educational materials, and designer Sébastien Bazem with the fantastic history of the Koko Dunda fabric.

If the Creative Africa program, which lasts for a year, offers grants to “accelerate the growth of companies”, the most valuable in the opinion of various winners remains the regular support of mentors and technical reinforcement to learn how to manage their box well.

Not to mention networking with potential business development partners and investors.


Once upon a time Biibop

Biibop is an African brand of toys and educational materials for children from 0 to 6 years old. Social enterprise Burkinabè, born in 2019, claims to be 100% African production.

“Everything is handmade, today we work with ten craftsmen”, explains Arzompoko Rosine KIEMA, co-founder and co-manager of Biibop.

“Memory, concentration, imagination, creativity, our collections have been developed so that domestic quality educational toys are available, adapted to the age and development of children”.

Biibop appeared in 2018. An outstanding performance at the International Crafts Fair in Ouagadougou where the awarded initiative won the Lafi Bala Award. An artisanal dimension that fits in with the fact that Mrs. KIEMA worked only with her own modest means.

“Creative Africa gave me a lot. Thanks to them, I was able to structure my business, hire an (administrative and logistics assistant and a salesperson), equip myself with computer equipment, develop a workshop and establish a research and development team with education experts,” says the 2021 winner.

But for her, a major benefit of the program remains the support she was able to benefit from in terms of training and capacity building. “It’s more than useful for entrepreneurs.” Precious and emancipatory.

Now he has big ambitions. Cover Burkina Faso, despite the security situation and the sub-region, go international and develop your e-commerce if possible on your website and social networks.

And support for Afrique Creative only started in October 2021.

Biibop employs ten employees. The company also works with a production workshop of a master carpenter, master makeup artist, African doll production manager, each with their own team.

Biibop also has a network of artisan partners. “Artisans do not work alone, they all have assistants in their workshops,” explains Ms. KIEMA, who indicates that the socio-economic impact, especially educational, is very broad. Namely, it is estimated that its craftsmen mobilize a total of more than fifty people.

She is proud of her brand, and feedback from satisfied customers is always an opportunity to confirm that she is on the right track. “Some praise us for the finish and durability of our products, as well as for the educational aspects. Many recommend us and even send us photos and videos”.

And in order to offer toys or materials that are always adapted and relevant, Biibop works in research and development with a “retired early childhood inspector, a teacher and a French association that works with auxiliary institutions for school life to test products in partner schools.

The guarantee guarantees the educational promise of Biibop, while ensuring that it renews itself and expands its range.

Sébastien Bazemo or the unusual story of Koku Dunda

If the fabric of Koko Dunda is today, like Faso Dan Fani, the pride of Burkina Faso, the fabric comes from far away. How did this fabric of the poor become a true cultural gem of African fashion? We owe it to the man: Sébastien Bazeme, the eponymous brand name that is now known all over the world.

“In the beginning, Koko Dunda did not bear this name. The fabric, based on dyeing techniques, is called “Tie ti barala” which in Dioula (a Mandingo language spoken in Burkina Faso, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire) means: “My husband does not work”, explains the fashion designer.

A marginalized fabric that was even “considered an insult if they offered it to you”, he specifies, delighted to see that today “there is no Burkinabè who does not have Koko Dunda in his wardrobe”.

It all started in 2014 after the fall of President Blaise Compaoré. Times are tough for a designer in a tough economic climate. “We had to give people a taste for dressing and wearing what comes from home.”

I found the Faso Dan Fani too thick. One day I came across Tie ti barala in the market. I bought some and started making models with them.

“At first people were shocked when they saw me working on this cloth. But I saw something in it, I felt its potential. Initially, they worked on gabardine, only in two colors: green and purple. And always with the same motives. »

So he works with dyers to change materials (muslin cloth, sam, glazed cotton, etc.) and change colors.

It was probably during a trip to Congo Brazzaville that he became aware of the value of this processed fabric. “I was invited to Congo and I arrived with some creations”

And in the land of sapa (the Society of Ambiences and Elegant People), price often determines value. So a Congolese friend, finding the prices Sébastien wanted to charge ridiculous, made sure to set new prices.

He managed to sell a shirt for 150 euros (almost 100,000 FCFA) and a dress for 400 euros (262,000 FCFA)! “For me it was like robbing people,” he recalls. In a week in Brazzaville, he made his monthly turnover in Ouagadougou.

The political instability of the time prevented him from settling in the Congo.

So he has a brilliant idea: to give this fabric dignity by changing its name. He organizes a press conference to rename “Tie ti barala” and give it the name “Koko Dunda”, which means “the entrance to Koko” in Dioulas, as a sign of respect for the Koko neighborhood in Bobo Dioulasso where the mothers make this cloth.

In the process, he created a 100% Koko Dunda collection for men and women and organized a private fashion show to launch it. Success is dazzling. He even offers clothes to the president. And what was his surprise when he saw Rocha Marc Christian Kaboré in a jersey during the meeting of the heads of state.

The effect of the training is immediate. But Sébastien Bazemo goes further and bases his communication on artists and international personalities. Fally Ipupa, Singuila, Meiway, Tinken Jah wore the creations he made for them. Just like the Princess of Monaco, Angelina Jolie or Emmanuel Macron…

The fabric is now marked.

“A friend told me about the Afrique Creative call for projects. I had faith that I had it, although it was not easy at first, because I was only a creator, not a business manager,” he recalls.

So he plays the honesty card. “I was clear about my flaws and the flaws in my work. Like the fact that I had to structure myself on almost all aspects of entrepreneurship. I had employees, but I lived hand to mouth. »

Admittedly, there was also the financial side, with a very nice subsidy that allowed the creator to equip himself, especially with industrial machinery, to equip his new luxury showroom.

But for him, “the most interesting thing was the training and support”.

“They made me think about a lot of things, about myself, about my activity. I’m even sorry that it’s only been a year. I would like 2 years to be better trained, because changes take time”.

Among other things, thanks to the Kerra agency hired and funded by the program, he was, for example, led to work on his brand strategy to establish the brand as a benchmark for high-end African fashion.

For this purpose, “Bazem’se” becomes “Sébastien Bazemo”. To fully assume his status as a stylist, like all great designers, and work on his visual identity.

“Today I sell everywhere in Africa. I decided on a system of limited and exclusive series because everything is created according to artisanal knowledge with a demanding quality charter.

Each fabric, each model is unique,” explains the man who is now researching vegetable dyes and top-quality Burkinabè rain cotton.

Sébastien Bazemo directly employs an average of twenty people and “indirectly more than 200”, working with cooperatives of weavers and dyers with worldly knowledge (almost 80% are women).

Biibop and Sébastien Bazemo are two examples, among others, of the effectiveness of Afrique Creative and the great potential of creative industries as a lever for development.

• Discover the Creative Africa program

• Visit the Biibop website

• Discover Sébastien Bazemo’s website

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