Having a strong purpose in the core of your business is crucial

MANUYOO exciting young brands and products from all 55 African countries. Running shoes from Kenya, designer fashion from South Africa.

Please introduce yourself and the Startup Manuyoo to our readers! 

We at MANUYOO are a dedicated team of industry, marketing and journalism professionals based in Berlin with a radically new approach to relations with Africa. In order to continue the development on the African continent, we do not rely on aid money. We rely on trade. 

MANUYOO distributes exciting young brands and products from all 55 African countries. Running shoes from Kenya, liqueur spirits from Benin, manufactured chocolate and high- quality cosmetics from Ghana, designer fashion from South Africa. Products that are not available in any One World shop. Products far away from the usual Africa clichés. 

MANUYOO thus fills a gap in the market. We bring a new lifestyle – and show what ‘Made in Africa’ means today. We present and sell our products in our online department shop and later also in pop-up stores. 

How does this work? Because we are in close contact with our partners in each country to discover new products. We also work together with local industry experts, trendsetters and influencers who track down unique products for MANUYOO. 

Why did you decide to start a business? 

The leading question for us was: what would be the best contribution that we as Europeans can give to African economies to grow. 

Our vision as Manuyoo is to create impact. We want to create impact in two ways: firstly, through business impact. We want to contribute to enhancing the economic development on the African continent by offering a platform where European consumers can buy products with 100% local value-add in the African country that they have been manufactured in. Through years of experience in Manufacturing and Supply Chain we know how important it is, where things are made. Manufacturing creates jobs, drives development, and inspires to innovate. 

Secondly, we want to change the narrative about the African continent showcasing inspiring and positive stories from our trading-partners in the different African countries, with the hope that we, as European consumers can adopt a new attitude towards products “Made-in-Africa” and also change our consumer behavior. 

What is the vision behind Manuyoo? 

Our vision is to create impact. We want to create impact in two ways. Firstly, we want to enhance the economic development on the African continent by bringing more value- added products manufactured in Africa to the European market. We believe that buying products from with local added value is more sustainable than development aid. Entrepreneurial activity creates jobs, innovation and fosters idevelopment. Every job created in the supply chain adds 5 – 10 jobs in the local community, from the bus driver to the restaurant chef. 

Secondly, we want to change the European narrative about the African continent. As long as we first think of starving children, conflict and corruption, it is hard to get enthusiastic about a high-quality product from Africa. Until then, little will change in the fact that the majority of the already low value of imports from Africa to the EU (2018: %) are raw products. That is why through our magazine we tell the stories of our trade- partners, their businesses and their products. The content is created by award-winning journalists, photographers and graphic designers. 

From the idea to the start what have been the biggest challenges so far and how did you finance yourself? 

The first crucial challenge that we have faced so far was ensuring that each of the products meets the European requirements. We discovered that there are many things to consider when importing to the EU, especially as a SME. 

Another challenge that we are facing are the logistic connections from Africa to the EU. It is very expensive shipping containers from Africa to the EU as compared to other continents such as Asia, and this essentially ruins any product calculation. 

The third and greatest challenge that we have faced is transforming how we, as European consumers perceive the African continent. It is hard for us to get enthusiastic about high-quality products from the continent when we often paint one of two pictures about the continent: one of wildlife and safari, or another less attractive one filled with poverty, violence, and fear. The African continent is more that these stereotypes. Until we change our mindset, little will change in the fact that majority of the already low value imports from Africa to the EU are low products. And as long as we do not change our attitude, we will continue trying to find ways of how to best “help” the global South. Manuyoo is bootstrapped by the founders. 

Who is the target group of Manuyoo? 

We appeal to all open-minded consumers who would like to get to know fresh, high- quality brands and support the idea of “trade not development aid”. 

How does Manuyoo work? What are the advantages?

What makes Manuyoo unique is that we do not only offer exceptional products, we are also the link to their manufactures. We know each of our suppliers personally, creating transparency and establishing trust. 

Manuyoo, where does the road go? Where do you see yourself in five years? 

If we are successful, we will see in every European household 100 products made-in- Africa in daily use and also enjoying to see our initial partners growing their business into truly global brands. 

At the end: Which 3 tips would you give to future founders? 

Yes, we know it’s a buzzword nowadays: But having a strong purpose in the core of your business is crucial. If you are clear and strong about the impact you want to create is powerful. When it comes to talking to your customers, investors and also acquiring team members – it helps you in every business and strategy decision. 

More information you will find here

Thank you for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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