Made in Nigeria


Marketing a made-in-Nigeria product is one of the most difficult aspects of being a creative entrepreneur, but with Bukky Asehinde’s intervention five years ago, this is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Chief Executive Officer of Bellafricana, an e-commerce platform helping to create visibility for creative businesses and connecting them to consumers worldwide, Asehinde is an alumna of the University of Westminster, London, where she studied Biochemistry. In this interview, she discusses in detail how she is changing the narratives for creative entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

What prompted the switch from Biochemistry to promoting local entrepreneurs?
My mum always reminds me that as a child, I always loved to bring people together. I was also drawn to creative, beautiful things and loved to put things in place for better aesthetics and everyone therefore thought I was going to be an interior decorator. However, I guess all of these traits have contributed to what I am doing right now. Bellafricana is a community of creative businesses and I am proud to be championing quality in creative indigenous businesses in Nigeria.

Why and when did you take interest in creative entrepreneurs?
As most of us already know, there’s so much creativity in Africa and I believe the media is not doing enough in portraying the creativity. I am particularly focused on promoting indigenous brands that have an African edge. I decided to do this when I felt someone needed to resolve the problem of access to international markets for local creative entrepreneurs as this was something I observed when I moved back to Nigeria in 2012. Prior to this time, I had been out of the country for about a decade and while in the UK, I worked in many indigenous companies, including Wembley Arena and as a Manager at McDonalds; all of which shaped my perception of indigenous businesses. Immediately I returned to Nigeria, I needed to undergo National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) having studied abroad and during my NYSC, I noticed a pattern among creative people who owned businesses- they just wanted to create, they didn’t understand so many things about marketing. I felt it would be amazing to create a platform where people producing amazing things could be connected to consumers looking to buy from them. I felt there was no better way to do this than to create an online platform where people from all over the world could access these locally made products already ‘verified’ by us since we are on ground here. This will give consumers the confidence to patronise these brands since they have been verified to be of good quality. The idea dropped in 2014 and began as an e-commerce platform until about 2015 when we adjusted our focus and started verifying quality businesses in Nigeria.

How was it marketing Nigerian brands to the world since ‘made-in-Nigeria’ is not well received both home and abroad?
We are changing the narrative because we still believe that quality is made here, and I am grateful for the confidence consumers already have in us. With our verification seal on any brand, they instantly assume it to be of good quality. We are, however, also very particular about quality and ensure the brands we project are of world-class standard. A look at our website will amaze you, you will see how many quality goods are currently being produced in Nigeria. I tell you, so many great things are being made here locally despite the fact that we’re not in the most enabling of environments.

Are there measures by which you ensure featured goods are of international and export quality?
Yes. We handpick businesses because we want to ensure the kind of goods seen on our platform are businesses that started from scratch and desire to grow; businesses that understand that they have to take their time to nurture and grow steadily. The way we operate, before verifying a product, we must examine it no matter what part of the country its producer is based. For certain products that require testing, we test them on ourselves before verifying. Also, another thing we do is training. Some business owners have skills gap, so we partner with experts who can train them better; not just in the creation of their products, but also in the running of their business on skills such as packaging, financing, marketing and branding.

Your target are entrepreneurs all over Africa, how far has this vision gone?
I would say we’ve gone quite far. Right now, we are creating allies in all the countries because we believe in partnership. Through collaboration, we are already bringing to limelight business owners from Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and many others. Our annual event ‘ACE Award,’ has also given us a great edge in celebrating creativity and innovation in Africa. The award focuses on micro-businesses from difference sectors, which are having an impact on their economies by creating jobs and developing these countries in one way or the other.

How would you rate your success so far?
Amazing. In Nigeria alone right now, we have over 100 businesses that have been verified and these cut across different parts of the country. We have over 500 businesses that are actually in our network and we are still verifying that their qualities meet world standard. Millions of consumers globally are already relying on our verification for assurance about various made- in-Nigeria brands. To an extent, that’s a good level of success for us. Also, we’ve been able to initiate partnership with top stakeholders such as the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and its Executive Director, Segun Awolowo, has heavily supported our work because it is also in the line of non-oil exports, which the country is currently keen on diversifying into.

What would you say is your biggest challenge?
There are quite a lot of them, but my biggest challenge is getting the right people to employ; people who are able to tap into your vision.

Who has influenced your life the most?
My mum, due to her entrepreneurial mindset. My dad was a white-collar person. My mum is a businesswoman and has been travelling since she was 17, heavily involved in trading. She was one of the early women who sold fabrics in Balogun and Oshodi markets in Lagos. My mum has acquired for herself, loads of cars and houses and supported the overseas education of my siblings and I, just by selling fabrics. She is a woman I am so proud of. Of course, my dad has always been there for us too.

Source: Tobi Awodipe for Guardian

Bolaji Oluwadunsin Precious is a final year student of Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State. She is also the CEO of Dunsin Craft Collection Company @Dunsincrafts, a fashion brand aimed at using creativity to advance fashion and style. It specializes in using Ankara fabrics to make several products such as Souvenirs for events and conferences, Laptop bags, Handbags, Backpacks, Document holders, Notepads, etc.

She has trained about 200 females in the art of Crafts with Ankara to make up to 8 products in 2018.


I was born in Ibadan but grew up with my dad at Abeokuta. My parents got divorced when I was 3 and my dad took custody of all 5 of us. I’m the 4th child.

After few years, my mum took custody of my younger sister and I. Growing up wasn’t so adventurous.

Inspiration behind Dunsin Craft Collection

The fear of poverty inspired me. There is a saying that ‘Worst situations bring out the best in people’…. I am a living example. I channelled that energy into what I love, Craft. I can make so many things with my hands, that’s why there is “Collection” at the end of my brand name.

Training of over 200 females in the craft of ankara..

I trained over 200 females in the craft of Ankara and the impact has been very strong. Months after the training, about half of them called me and chatted me up to express their gratitude and to also informed me of their progress. DCC is already working on a platform where we can do more.

The reception so far…

It has been amazing! The African fabrics (Kente/Ankara) has always given our products uniqueness and beauty!! Everyone, I mean everyone that sees the Ankara designed products are always wowed and show interest in them.


I am always inspired by women doing great things (Oprah Winfrey, Linda Ikeji, Michelle Obama, Alakija). I make researches online to see products other African countries make and I get motivated.

Greatest reward

Recognition as the Number one Accessory Designer in Ondo state. Top blogs and Website carried the feat.


The major challenge I face, is balancing academics with business. I’m in my finals at FUTA.  Others are financial which has made me put in for grants and apply for international applications where my business can be funded for more exploits.

On winning the Entrepreneur Of The Year award

I am encouraged to do more. To aspire more. To keep pushing. If I could get this award, I know greater things are on the way.

On giving up…

I have entertained the thought of giving up countless times. I would tell myself “why don’t you just marry a rich man” …. Lol. But then, the fear of marriage scares me sometimes, so it’s not an option. There are times when I would have less than a thousand naira in my account and make no sale for weeks. It’s been God holding me up.I just want to be like those I look up to and to inspire a lot of ladies too.

I am a Woman Of Rubies

My goals. My vision. My strength. My feminine power. My determination. My fighting spirit. My ability to keep moving forward even when nothing made sense.

Final word for women aspire to go into my line of business

Nothing is ever easy. So expect difficult situations. Always plan, so nothing takes you by surprise. Don’t stop believing in yourself, its dangerous. Run from anything/anyone negative. Eat and rest. Ask for help when you need it. Go out and connect with other entrepreneurs. Your biggest client might be into tech. Make research on what you do regularly. Love and Pray.

– DCC is a fashion brand aimed at using creativity to advance fashion and style. It specializes in using Ankara fabrics to make several products such as Souvenirs for events and conferences, Laptop bags, Handbags, Backpacks, Document holders, Notepads etc

Contact us :Facebook : Dunsin craft collections DCC Twitter : @DunsincraftsTel No :08107795747

Ronke  is the Founder of “Shoefetish” a Made-In-Nigeria shoe brand  that is gradually getting recognition abroad, when she started  getting high demands for shoes, she decided to change her brand name  and be simply known as Ronke Adeshina “RA”, fully identifying with her Nigerian roots and making  a bold “Proudly Nigerian” statement as a brand.

The English Language and Literature graduate from the University of Lagos started working at a financial institution right after her NYSC and this greatly influenced her journey into the business of shoe and bag making industry.

According to her;

“I realised that most of the shoes my colleagues and I really loved and needed to get were too expensive and felt I could do better. In 2010, I started making shoes for myself, few friends and colleagues”

She draws a lot of inspiration from Richard Branson’s signature quote; “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later” …and she adds: “especially if it’s in your area of interest or business”.

Ronke is  ambitious, imaginative and adventurous  and  she put all these  in the pieces she creates. The young entrepreneur who sees Oprah Winfrey and the Queen of England wearing her brand one day shares her inspiring story with me in this interview

Growing up

I drew a lot as a little girl and that helped my ability to sketch; making designs a reality now. I enjoyed working with my hands. I once made a purse and skirt by hand; including the stitching.

While at the university, I did a little graffiti on one of my jeans while receiving a lecture and people loved it. I guess I have always been creative.

My love for shoes also started as a child. The first pair of stilettos I bought was when I was in my third year at the university. It cost me a lot (especially my allowance for the week) but I didn’t care…those shoes were beautiful.


Meet Ronke!

I am the only girl amongst three boys. I attended the University of Lagos where I studied English Language and Literature.   I have garnered a lot on-the-job experience; I am also self-taught especially in the art of creating embellishments, bejeweled pieces like bead art, bead embroidery, embellishing fabrics with crystals and more. Creating shoes, bags, embellishments and other leather items is something I really love doing especially wedding (traditional and white wedding) pieces for brides and grooms. I get to meet people with different personalities and styles and this I try to incorporate into their products.


The “Ronke Adeshina” brand journey

I started posting pictures of my works on Facebook, then I started getting messages from people asking how they could get a pair or two of shoes. I have garnered a lot of on-the-job experience and I am also self taught especially in the art of creating embellishments, bejewelled pieces, bead art, bead embroidery and working with crystals and more.


Balancing my 9-5 job  with family and my side hustle

It isn’t easy running a business and family. You can’t do it all. A lot is expected from women: she is expected to perform many roles with apparently superhuman efficiency. I have learnt to delegate duties both at home and work. I have a team of amazing people that makes things easier for me. It’s important to delegate duties /task to people in their area of expertise so as to get the best from them.


Work Challenges

Initially, getting capable people to work with was quite difficult. People want money but not ready to go through the process of getting it. Because I am passionate about empowering youths especially the girl child, there was a period I was ready to teach for free but no one came. But over time I have been able to build a team of hardworking staff.  When I just started there were few ladies in the business, so it was quite tasking. But I guess growing up with boys helped a lot.

Getting quality materials to work with here in Nigeria are quite expensive and this tends to affect the cost of products.

other project and activities

I was recently contacted by an NGO. We are working on going to secondary schools (especially girls only schools) to talk to them about the importance of being independent and acquiring one or more skills. We are also going to teach them handwork and I would be teaching them bead art works, embellishments and embellishing fabrics.  Asides this, I do personal charitable works which I intend to keep private.


Customer satisfaction is my reward

The excitement and thank you I get when clients receive their purchase(s) makes me happy. The mother of one of the brides I worked with once called to appreciate the pieces her daughter got from us. She couldn’t believe it was handmade; and she prayed and also encouraged me. Most of my clients are referrals from family, friends and clients that have patronized us; I also have customers turn friends. All these and more makes me feel like I am doing something right.


Nigerians and patronage of “Made in Nigeria” products

There is still this misconception that made in Nigeria isn’t authentic enough. Well, I cannot blame them because they might have purchased item(s) which did not serve them well. But there are still brands like us and others that produce quality products using original leathers and other materials needed for production.

Another problem is most Nigerians like to be associated with foreign brands that are well known. But what they fail to realize is that these brands have been in existence since the 1950s, some as far back as 1830s. They did not grow to become international brands on their own; they did with the support of their own people. If Nigerians can do the same for their own made in Nigeria products, that would help brands grow and become global too. This will also help generate more jobs for our people and grow our economy. They are trying but more needs to be done.


Giving up

The road to building a brand is not easy. I have felt like giving up several times and still do but the love for what I do keeps me motivated. I have learnt a lot while growing the brand: what to do and what not to do. Some experiences shake you but it only makes you better. Running a business is a continuous process. It is just like the popular cliché about marriage being an institution you never graduate from. I am still learning

My Inspiration

Inspirations are everywhere – you just need to open your eyes and breathe in. I am inspired by things I face and work through in my daily life. I get inspired by patterns and colours in nature and love to translate that to products in a new way. I am inspired by the people I meet every day; most especially the ones I get to work with: lifestyle and personality differs with every individual and that is unique. This I tend to put into pieces we create. I am inspired by stories of brands that started as far back as 1803. Most importantly, God is the major source of my inspirations.

Being a woman of Rubies

My life is a story. The ups and downs I have experienced especially while growing my brand is my story. I am still learning because life and business is a continuous phase/process. Every woman is a woman of Rubies: from the road side seller to the CEO; our day to day activities are tales – we all have stories to tell. I hope my story and that of other women, inspires and transforms lives; that is the greatest achievement.

Advice to women going into my line of business

One of my mantras is “You never know what you can do until you try”. No business is off limit for you. There are women doing great things in male dominated businesses and even doing better. You are even at an advantage because it gets you noticed.

At the early stage of my business, people especially men were surprised to see a lady in the shoe and bag making industry. They wanted to see me and always wanted me to give them their orders not my staff. Keep learning new things, do not be intimidated by others and do not be distracted. Mistakes are inevitable but when that happens, do not give up: you just learnt a valuable lesson(s) which is how not to do things; try another method. Put God first and other things follow.

My view of the fashion industry in Nigeria and it’s impact on women

The fashion industry in Nigeria is growing. It is actually much better than years back and more women are getting involved.Women are doing incredible works and since the advent of #wcw (women crush Wednesday) and #womensupportingwomen (women supporting women), we have seen women trying to encourage and support one another. Women in the fashion industry need to collaborate more with other women – it is amazing what we can accomplish when we are in it together.

Women of Rubies is also doing a great job by recognising women doing well in whatever field they are in either big or small.



Animashaun Aminat Aderayo is the CEO of Switt fashion and leather works which is a Nigerian company founded in 2012. A Company make use of quality leather and fabrics such as Ankara, Aso-ofi, silk and satin to produce handmade shoes with matching bags and accessories for women, as well as high quality leather footwear for men. she created the brand name ” De’rayo” and launched her vocational institute “De’rayo vocational Limited” which is into training of youths and youth corp members to be experts in a field of their choice in the fashion industry.

She had her Diploma in marketing from Olabisi Onabanjo university, studied French and have Delf certificate in French,studied B.sc. Entrepreneurial and business administration at Nigeria National Open University.

She also studied Entrepreneurial Development at Enterprise Development Center, Lagos Business School. Derayo is also the co-founder of Prospects for Girls Foundation, an NGO that train and empower young girls in Africa. The young entrepreneur who believes Nigeria will be great again shares her inspiring story in this exclusive interview.

Childhood Influence

When I was at age 6, what I do most times is to stitch fabrics together. I remember vividly when I was in JSS 2, I told my Mum I wanted to learn fashion designing at her friends’ shop which I resume there after school each day instead of going to extra lesson. I did not know then I would become an entrepreneur. All I noticed at a tender age is that I enjoy marketing. I can market a product I don’t have with word of mouth and people will demand for it. I started out selling book stands, scarf and fashion accessories among others.
I enjoy marketing which I later studied at Olabisi Onabanjo University at 2004.

Meet Me

I am Animashaun Aminat Aderayo the creative director and CEO of Switt Fashion and Leather Works based in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. The company was founded in the year 2012. The company makes use of quality leather and fabrics such as Ankara, Adire, and Aso-Ofi to produce handmade shoes, with matching bags and accessories for women, as well as high quality leather footwear for men.

I created the brand name “De’rayo”. I’m also the CEO of “De’rayo Vocational Limited” which is into training of youths to be an expert in a field in Fashion Industry. I studied Diploma in marketing from Olabisi Onabanjo University, studied French and have a Delf Certificate in French; I studied B. Sc. Entrepreneurial and business administration at Nigeria National Open University.

I also studied Entrepreneurial Management at Enterprise Development Center, Lagos Business School. I’m the co-founder of prospects for girls foundation, an NGO that train and Empower young girls in Africa.

Inspiration behind Switt Fashion and Leather Works
Switt Fashion and Leather Works is a manufacturing company that is into production of Shoes, Bags and Accessories with quality leather and fabrics such as Aso-Ofi, Ankara and Adire.

We produce for other brands both locally and internationally. We produce for 18 Forever a London base brand and Redefine Africa in Pennsylvania USA and brands in Nigeria.

The inspiration behind Switt Fashion is to see quality products produce here in Nigeria by us for us to the world and for the fact that I want to reduce the rate of unemployment which I known setting up a factory will help to employ certain number of youths and the factory success can also be a source of motivation to Nigeria Youths, that it can work here in Nigeria against all odds.


The challenges are enormous, but have confirmed that greatest opportunities are gotten from greatest challenges. Firstly is acting as the Creative Director and CEO at the same time is not sustainable, inadequate power supply

Empowering Youths and Corpers
Empowering Youths and Corpers is our company Corporate Social Responsibilities CSR and it is actual one of my core passion to see lots of youths create jobs for others, so we can all reduce the rate of unemployment that is alarming, and the best place to catch them is during NYSC, I also visit orphanage homes to train orphans on Ankara craft and the company also gives out scholarship to youths with interest by training them for free. I want to change the narratives; I am a shoemaker with a difference. I want to groom young entrepreneurs that value culture, education and also produce quality products to the world.

Tell us about your other project and activities

De’rayo Vocational Limited is a provider of fashion and craft education to all levels. We balance the know-how of design production with an international vision. We offer training on shoemaking designing, bag making designing, texture designing, fashion accessory designing, fashion business, fashion marketing and merchandizing. We offer diploma certificate in all our courses. We provide state of the art learning facilities, equipped practical rooms our vocational center is located at 61, Adesam Plaza Dikat, Ring Road, Ibadan. We also do online training which you can enroll on our website: www.dvi.institute.

I got a scholarship from World Bank (women x) extraordinary women where I was trained at Lagos business school, enterprise development centre for free. I was also awarded personality of month by JCI (Jimson Chambers International) Oluyole Chapter, Ibadan, Nigeria. I have participated in many exhibition and conference.

My brand in the next five years
We would have our stores nationwide and export to other countries. Expansion of our factory which we will be able to employ (50) fifty people and turn our vocational limited into a conventional universities where we produce certified shoemakers, bag makers and curtisam.

Giving up

No, not at all, there are ups and downs which I believe every profession has. I enjoy what I do a lot that is why it is difficult for me to turn my back at it. My burning passion boosts my moral sometimes when I’m down.

Who and what inspire you to be better

My Mentor – Mrs. Atinuke Fadahunsi Smith, (Datina Designs) she supports me and my mother Mrs. Aderonke Animashaun. I learn from afar my role model as well Mrs. Sola Babatunde (OSC College of Fashion). My inspiration comes from seeing quality products made in Nigeria and promoting our culture to the world. Our traditions and culture is very rich which we need to tell our stories through them, our designs celebrates Africa culture and tradition.

Being a Woman of Rubies

I am a woman of rubies because I nurture the next generation of creative leaders and thinkers, I nurture my God given abilities. I dream and yearn for a better Nigeria which I am doing my part to make Nigeria great. I believe in making sure everyone wins which reflects in all my daily activities. I support all women businesses and mentor aspiring youths to become an entrepreneur.

Final word for women all over the world

The expert in anything was once a beginner.Do not let anything stand in your starting, start something, start somewhere, just start, follow your dream and passion. Don’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.