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Kenya’s Mode Mara Wants to be Africa’s Biggest Marketplace for Designers

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IMG_2148-1024x682Founded this year by Helen Langat and Michelle Ouma, Kenya’s ModeMara.com aims to be Africa’s fashion hub by bringing together talented designers from across Africa, show their unique aesthetic and also give them a market place to sell their wares and provide them with delivery and logistics support for it’s member designers.

“We’re also a networking platform for them to meet and share ideas,” says Helen Langat, co-founder Mode Mara on what inspired them. “For the most part- it was seeing a lot of Kenyan talent not being fully exploited or explored. A lot of designers are good at the creative aspect- but not the sales or delivery or marketing. We wanted to be a partner to these designers- inject business acumen into their ventures to create a better brand/product for them.”

Mode means fashion and Mara is coined from the great Mara, Kenya’s own international tourism export. Langat says they’re selling amazing fashion which is firmly rooted in Kenya.

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Helen and Michelle
Helen and Michelle

Targeting urban professionals, Mode Mara works simply. Users go to the site, pick out whatever amazing design that tickles them or whatever they fancy, add it to their cart, proceeds to checkout to confirm their purchases, fills in their delivery address, pays through credit/debit and M-Pesa and await confirmation and delivery.

Mode Mara aims to make their returns by taking commission on sales and not only give designers a free networking platform but also help them sale their wares under the shop section.

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“We aim to help grow the Buy African- Made by African. We believe there is a strong customer base right here in Africa with the rise in purchasing power of middle income earners,” said Helen. “We want to grow our distribution systems in order to become a serious contender in the e-commerce space in Africa. This would also enable us to stock a larger number of designers and expose the beautiful and diverse textiles and aesthetics that make up African Fashion.”

IMG_2159-1024x682Locally, the two see no competion and see plans to work with West Africa’s Kisua, a company founded by Samuel Mensah, formerly the Africa director for Intel Capital.

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The firm recently received seed funding from Kenya’s Nailab, an incubation centre which Langat says gave them insight on what its like to run a successful African start up and gave them more confidence with going out and sharing ideas and finding solutions to real problems using technology.

Langat thinks somethings need to be fixed to see more youths creating jobs than being job seekers.

“It starts from our education system, in my opinion. We’re taught to think in a box. That there are ten major lines of work and every Kenyan student imagines they have to fit somewhere in that line. Whether doctor, lawyer, pilot, engineer, marketer, accountant among others. The world is much wider than that- and opening the childrens perspective- giving them the opportunity to actually do what they like/are good at would be the first positive significant step in the right direction,” Langat concludes.

 

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakobahttp://techmoran.com
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs  TechMoran.com, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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