Q Can you please introduce your Company and tell us about your business, location and contact information?
A: Hi, thanks for having us. The name of our company is Agama Label. We are a fashion brand that features High End casual clothing for Men & Women i.e. Polo shirts, Sweaters, T-shirts & Accessories. As a brand, we aspire to inspire a confident lifestyle through our designs and products. We are currently located in Toronto, Canada, however we also retail across North America, the U.K and Nigeria.
Visit us @ www.agamalabel.com
Instagram | Facebook| Twitter: @agamalabel
Q Please take us through your background and how you got started
A: We all from Nigeria, most of us schooled in the U.S & the U.K. We all have degrees in various fields, Business & Engineering specifically, however we all share a similar passion for fashion. Agama Label began as an idea in 2006 by brothers Uzo and Emeka Menakaya, both with the vision and determination to create a really “cool & unique” brand that people could relate to. Alexander Ogbechie and Tobenna Menakaya joined the team shortly, and after several brainstorming sessions and workshops, the brand was finally established in 2007, the following year we released the first set of our designs from our Polo Collection in the U.S.
Q So, the big question, how is your business adding value to the African Economy?
A: That’s an important question.. One thing that we take pride in, apart from producing quality fashionable products, is Philanthropy, with our core target being the youth in Africa. We believe that by empowering the youth, whether via Academic sponsorships, supporting skills/workshop training or mentorship programs, we add value to the economy through the youth. We have worked with NGOs and several Charity organizations, and we hope to play a much bigger role as we grow.
Q Are there similarities between doing business in the country you are in and Africa (Nigeria)?
A: Absolutely, I think the one that sticks out more than others is E-commerce. Especially in Nigeria, E-commerce has made it more feasible for businesses to operate at some level. Shipping/Logistics is another area of business in Nigeria that has improved, today there are more 3rd party private shipping companies outside of the big 3 (FedEx, DHL & UPS) offering secure delivery of products to customers than there was 10 yrs ago, that’s a positive.
Q What were your expectations and fears when you decided to start doing business in Africa?
A: For us it was more of a concern, and at the same time we had a certain level of expectation that our products would not only receive some form of visibility through our distribution channels, but also a guaranteed delivery system of our products to customers. Another challenge was the initial hesitation/fear that the public had, and still have when it comes to purchasing products online, mostly due to a fear of fraud/I.D Theft. This hesitation to purchase goods online is also held by Africans residing outside of Africa, visa vie North America & Europe.
Q What are the challenges your business has faced since setting up in Africa?
A: We have faced a few challenges, mostly around logistics and dealing with authorities, but we can’t give up. We just have to continue to look for ways to make it work, as we build on the growing awareness of the brand.
Q Coming back to Nigeria, did you ever feel like you needed to readjust to life back in the country?
A: Yes, part of our team that relocated back to Nigeria had to adjust to the system. However, we chose not to settle for that, the challenge is to look for ways to improve the current system and make a positive impact.
Q How do you deal with issues such as traffic, lack of basic infrastructure and the power situation?
A: The same way everybody else deals with it. It’s tough and very frustrating, but you have to factor in those issues when planning your day or your week, and even when you do that, the system can throw you another curve ball. You just have to remain focused on your task at hand and get it done.
Q If you had to do this all over again what would you do different?
A: Possibly more planning and research if anything at all. And just try to exercise more patience with the system.
Q Finally, what advice would you give people looking to do business in Africa from the Diaspora?
A: There’s a lot of potential in Africa for businesses to emerge and thrive, and in doing so, create opportunities for the people of Africa i.e Employment, stability. So take your time and do your research. Come up with a business model that works. Let’s empower ourselves and in doing so empower each other!