Founder and CEO of Yswara and the Swaady Group tells us about “Made in Africa” and what it means to her
Regal and beautiful, Swaady is a woman pushing the Africa renaissance. “YSWARA (www.yswara.com) and AKRAFO are SWAADY Group brands. The SWAADY Group was launched in December 2012 as a way of reversing the African commodity trap by creating a socially-responsible group of brands to process African raw commodities into high-value consumer products distributed globally (www.swaady.com).”
“Africa is the world’s top producer of sought-after commodities, which are largely raw. Our vision is for our brands to be the global reference in consumer products of exception and excellence, and ethically ‘Made in Africa’.”
The factory is located in the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage site in a beautiful setting overlooking Johannesburg, with expansive views over the Magaliesberg mountain range. “This location symbolizes our commitment to Africa and the development and progress of its people; representing our love for our roots. Our factory will also be used as an educational site where young learners can see what goes into the processing, preparing and logistics of developing passionately ‘Made in Africa’, kindling in them a love for agriculture.”
“If you look around most African capitals, there are not many high-end places to hang out. The market is largely under-served. We believe that the elegant YSWARA tearooms and retail stores concept would be successful throughout Africa,” she says matter-of-factly.
As for the future, she shares that they are taking decisive steps to changing the popular notion of what is African. “We are bringing something completely new in a global market: authentic African luxury. Most African concepts are ‘ethnic’, ‘crafty’ or ‘safari-like’. We are taking a different experience of the urban, contemporary, and sophisticated Africa–proud of its roots and origins without falling into clichés and stereotypes.”
This entrepreneur wants more entrepreneurs to grow and thrive in the continent. “I am passionate about contributing to the development of more African entrepreneurs, especially women. As an African entrepreneur, I see the franchising business as a great opportunity to support African women entrepreneurs, setting them for success with a proven model and strong on-going business and training support. We build capacity and networks across the continent, breaking intra-Africa trade, mentoring women in business.” Though she has achieved much, it looks like Swaady has only just begun.