Having a sit down with the Figma African lead was a pleasure. As it opened eyes to what the San Francisco based company is doing in Africa, for Africans. Namnso Ukpanah leads Figma in Africa, and so far has been gaining traction quite well amongst designers in the continent. The Figma Lagos meetup was held on the 5th of May, while the Accra’s was on May 12th. South Africa Figma meetup is slated for May 26th.
Now, so Figma despite being a San Francisco company has a lot of their users based in Africa. It isn’t abnormal to think that there’s a kind of feature that appeals to designers here. Namnso, however thinks that the ease of use is a major factor that’s onboarding users for Figma. Emphasizing that as a design tool that works via the browser, and allows people to collaborate during work, it is exactly what African designers need.
For other tools, users might need to start learning the basics of the tool itself before even how to design, but the story is different with Figma. It is a user friendly tool that allows one to go from 0 to 100 in just a bit.
It would be worthy of note that Figma has chosen certain states to launch for now, after getting a whole lot of interest to be part of the Figma community. Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Cape Town (South Africa) are countries where Figma are currently expanding, with plans for some more which would be revealed in subsequent times.
Speaking on launching in Africa, and choosing it as its first stop, Namnso says there’s a backstory to that. After the founder and CEO of Figma visited the country, and they had a tech tour, there was a discovery that there is a dire need for designers by various startups and companies. This is a need that they believe Figma could really cater for, even though it is not placed as a priority by these companies.
As a startup, product, tool, or what have you. It is very pertinent that you are filling a particular need in the customer’s way of life. This is where the ‘pain killer’ and ‘vitamin’ debate always come up. Figma prides itself in being a painkiller as it definitely solves a clear problem designers might be facing. Collaboration and ease.
Asides filling the need for designers, Figma also launched in the continent to pave a part for the bunch of people (newbies, actually) who wants to follow a career in design. There’s no other tool Namnso would rather recommend as his personal experience with the tool was nothing short of great. Designer newbies have virtually all they need to get started, plus they could get their works reviewed by (and work with) anyone, anywhere in the world. How much more collab do you need to grow?
Speaking further, one basic plan for Figma Africa is to grow their community. They Figma intends to make design accessible to everyone and part of the ways they are doing this is through design education, design meetups and design hackathons, a striving online community so communication can continue without barriers and they also have a weekly design challenge. For them, they wouldn’t mind if everybody turns a designer. The Figma Campus ambassador program let students get aware that being a designer is actually a real career part. Basically, they want to reach as many people as possible.
In conclusion, and as a charge for fellow designers, Namnso encourages designers to be collaborative in their workings. Remember? “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with someone.”
You want to try Figma out? Go HERE.