Bonono Merchants makes its mark in Africa

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Some of Bonono merchandise

By Neo Kolane

Local clothing brand Bonono Merchants has been selected among the top 25 fashion houses from 11 African countries to carry on the adventure of the Fashionomics Africa Accelerator Programme.

Bonono Merchants is a clothing wear stockist inspired deeply by positive approach to timeless trends in fashion and design.

Bonono Merchants’ priority is Basotho-centric, their apparel is inspired by the life, tradition and culture of Basotho.

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Fashionomics Africa is an initiative of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) to foster the fashion industry in Africa as a leverage to create jobs. The objective is to stimulate regional integration, intra-African trade, entrepreneurship development and forge more equal societies.

The AfDB under the leadership of the Gender, Women and Civil Society and in collaboration with the Industrial and Trade Department (PITD), supports the growth of African Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) operating in the creative industries, notably the fashion, film and food value chain.

It has project called Fashionomics. It shows that fashion can improve quality of life for a lot of African. It can unlock the economic value of the continent.

The founder of Bonono Merchants Chere Mongangane disclosed that Bonono Merchants is in the second edition of the project, and the theme for this year is Scaling up Fashion Business in Africa which is what Bonono Merchants is trying to do.

Mongangane previously told the publication that there is nothing special about Bonono Merchants besides the teams’ passion to tell Basotho stories through fashion.

He mentioned Lesotho’s history, important figures of Basotho saying that it inspires Bonono Merchants apparels. 

Mongangane said his team saw the competition, and most importantly looked to learn about running a fashion business in Africa and also how to scale it up hence entering the contest.

He explained that the competition has a couple of stages, the first stage was opening up applications for African fashion entrepreneurs.

“Two thousand applications were received which were put into two groups; 1 000 fashion entrepreneurs were selected for things they had on display.

“What followed was a session were a thousand shortlisted applicants to discuss business fashion in Africa.

“There were two different sessions, from there, 300 fashion entrepreneurs undergone training which is where establishing a fashion business, dealing with designing, marketing the business, looking for investments and how develop production processes that could enhance the performance of a company took place.

“We went through that training as 300 businesses and what followed was an examination,” he said.

He explained that the criteria for selection was based on attendance with 70 percent of attendance and over 70 percent of the final examination.

“We were lucky enough to make it to the top 25 which is what they took out of 300 fashion entrepreneurs.

“Currently, this coming Sunday is submission of video pitch,” he said.

The winner will have the opportunity to win a financial reward of USD $10,000 (M172,000) for the best sustainable and innovative brand, a Fashionomics Africa certificate: access to a network of media insiders and industry experts.