After courting a coveted Kenyan brand for over a year, we finally succeeded in onboarding Marini Naturals, a woman-founded natural haircare company. Gaining Marini Naturals onto our Africa Goodnest family of consumer-packaged goods produced in Africa, was a coup for several reasons:
- Pan-African Trade. Working with an East African brand allows us to expand across the continent, virtually uniting East and West Africa on our platform
- African Diversity. Marini Naturals was founded by two Kenyan women of different ethnic heritage, both African, attesting to the diversity and unifying spirit of the African continent
- Quality Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Marini Naturals is one of Africa’s premier, fast growing natural hair care brands, beautifully packaged and catering to diverse hair types.
- Melanin. I don’t need much preamble to dance, but signing on Marini gave me a legitimate reason to crank up and bop to ‘Melanin’ by Sauti Sol, my favorite Kenyan musicians.
Also notably, Africa Goodnest, like other African companies, is eager for the opportunity of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to tap into a marketplace of around 1.3 billion people with an estimated combined GDP of $3 trillion (MacLeod, Jamie; Luke, David and Guepie, Geoffroy (2023) ‘The AfCFTA and regional trade’, in: Luke, David (ed) How Africa Trades, London: LSE Press, pp. 23–50). Essentially, we are also looking to do business from East to West and North to South Africa. ‘A large part of the growth and prosperity that we seek on the continent will come from us trading more among ourselves’, said Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, in his address at the commissioning of the AfCFTA Secretariat in August 2020 (ibid). We think that Africans in Morocco should experience Marini Naturals’ Dapper Man’s Hair Growth Serum and that Ugandans should get a taste of Premium Robusta Coffee Beans by Gold Coast Roasters.
Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world (MacLeod, Luke, and Guepie), but Africa’s exports are about 2.3% of world trade, the majority of which is concentrated in fuels, ores and metals. Yet, trade, especially intra-African trade and production in manufactured goods is growing. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2025, Africa could increase its manufacturing output from $500 billion to $930 billion (McKinsey & Company, Lions on the Move II, September 2016).
Indeed, in 2020, Africa exported about $31 billion in raw commodities like fruits, vegetables and oils. What is the potential of value-added commodities like chocolate truffles instead of raw cocoa or extra virgin coconut oil instead of coconuts? As a company, we are eager to share the goodness of African produced, packaged and branded goods with countries in Europe, the Americas and especially other African countries.
Brands like Marini Naturals, Gold Coast Roasters, Bonne Graine and Huilerie Royale are part of the growing number of small and medium sized companies specializing in value-added, export-ready goods from Africa. Africa Goodnest exists to support businesses like these to capture some of the promise of African trade, both within our own borders and beyond.