SUPPORT | December 8, 2015

Xchange Blog Series: Visit to Workshop Retailer Helps Entrepreneurs Create Business Ideas

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This is part of a series of blogs from the four entrepreneurs participating in the Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa initiative. The Xchange is a mentorship and exchange program for high-growth women entrepreneurs based in Africa. The initiative is being run by the Case Foundation, the Mara Foundation, the Global Entrepreneurship Network and the U.S. Department of State.

The second week in Nairobi was by far the most exciting; I visited Sandstorm Kenya in Karen with Diana Opoti, my mentor. It was a 20-minute drive to the workshop, and I was excited because, it had been a goal for the longest time to visit and see the quality leather brand.

Sandstorm Kenya utilizes artisan skills to produce handcrafted classic leather and canvas bags that have been held by the likes of Kate Middleton and Maliaka Firth. Methuselah Moshi, who is the operations manager for the brand, showed us around. He explained how having the production and organization chain mapped out has increased the efficiency. One of the big problems we encounter in Haute Baso is maintaining long relationships with the artisans; Sandstorm Kenya’s approach is to cultivate relationships beyond the workshop. Artisans that work with Sandstorm are offered incentives like machinery ownership, health insurance, and family days. These are all strategies that could be adapted in Rwanda.

Following the visit to the workshop, we headed to one of Sandstorm Kenya’s stores in the popular junction mall to see how the brand showcases the bags and accessories. The brightly lit room with shelves filled with all kinds of bags makes customers feel like they cannot leave the room without purchasing at least one item.

Sandstorm Kenya is the perfect example of a brand who has recognized the potential in Africa and is producing quality, functional accessories while empowering local artisans.

Visit the Xchange website for updates on the initiative. 

Linda Mukangoga is the founder of Haute Baso, a clothing and accessories company based in Kigali, Rwanda. The company harnesses the creative… About the author