Essence Ventures, a holding company founded by Liberian SheaMoisture CEO Richelieu Dennis just bought ESSENCE–both the magazine and its parent lifestyle brand– from Time,Inc.
ESSENCE currently reaches a global audience of more than 16 million across its various platforms encompassing its signature print magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials, including the Black Women in Hollywood Awards on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network; books; and live events, including the Street Style Block Party during New York Fashion Week and the annual ESSENCE Festival, a cultural celebration that debuted in 1995 and is now one of the country’s largest annual events, attracting more than 450,000 attendees.
About Richelieu Dennis
Born in Liberia, Richelieu Dennis came to the United States to attend renowned business school Babson College. When he graduated in 1991, he was unable to return to Liberia because of civil war. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Richelieu partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies. Drawing from deep traditions born out of his family’s roots in Africa and passed down to him from his grandmother, Richelieu incorporated four generations of recipes, wisdom and cultural experiences into natural bath and body care products, co-founding Sundial with his mother – Mary Dennis – and Nyema.
Through the Essence Ventures’ investment and resulting incremental growth opportunities, ESSENCE will focus on expanding its digital businesses via distribution partnerships, compelling original content and targeted client-first strategies. In addition, the brand will expand its international growth by planting its rich content ecosystem, including the flagship magazine, digital properties and successful live event franchises, in more global markets with women who have shared interests and aspirations.
“The strategic vision and leadership that Michelle has provided to ESSENCE over the years have been exemplary, and we are thrilled to work with her and her talented team to provide the necessary resources and support to continue to grow the engagement and influence of the ESSENCE brand and transform this business,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder and chairperson of Essence Ventures. “As importantly, we are excited to be able to return this culturally relevant and historically significant platform to ownership by the people and the consumers whom it serves and offer new opportunities for the women leading the business to also be partners in the business.”
Dennis continued, “We remain committed to leveraging our resources to provide opportunities for other culturally-rooted entrepreneurs and businesses that further our culture and create economic opportunities for our communities. Our focus here will be on ensuring that Essence reaches its full potential via heightened capabilities, technology, products and touch points that super-serve the interests of Black women locally and globally. We look forward to helping generate new opportunities that create more value across the ESSENCE portfolio with unmatched content, commerce and international access for the millions of women it serves, as well as exceptional value for our advertising partners and content creators.”
“This acquisition of [Essence] represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand,” said the company’s president, Michelle Ebanks, in the press release.
Zimbabwe Offers Land for Wakanda One Village
The fictional ‘Black Panther’ country, Wakanda, may just be on its way to becoming a reality. The government of Zambia and Zimbabwe are setting aside 132, and 2,000 hectares of land respectively for the construction of Wakanda One Village. The land is located around Victoria Falls along the border of the two countries.
The concept of Wakanda One Village is to let Africans in Diaspora spearhead development at specified sites on the continent. The idea is timely as Zimbabwe government is seeking the help of Zimbabweans in the diaspora to rebuild the economy. Consequently, Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa is looking forward to transforming the country by 2030 to an upper-middle-class economy. President Mnangagwa hopes to achieve this through tourism, mining, and agriculture.
The land pledge by President Mnangagwa was confirmed in December 2018 by Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the Permanent Representative to the US and the African Union Ambassador. In an interview following the conclusion of the inaugural Intra African Trade Fair, Dr. Arikana said,
“I met His Excellency President Mnangagwa recently and he offered 2000ha for the regional Wakanda One in Victoria Falls. The offer also comes in when the Zambian Government has also offered some land across the river in Livingstone. So we are looking at building the village [Wakanda One Village] straggling the border between the countries.”
The Composition of Wakanda One Village
The Wakanda One Village proposed between Zimbabwe and Zambia will only be the first of similar projects in the Southern African region. It will comprise a university and technical college, a 100-bed teaching hospital, day-care centers, primary and secondary schools, game lodge, three five-star hotels, parks, agricultural farms, and a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.
On completion, the proposed Wakanda One Village will also have commercial office buildings, a shopping center, a monorail around the complex, renewable power plants, and a road network that will support electric cars that are self-driven.
Dr. Arikana also mentioned that Tanzania and Kenya have also pledged land for the building of Wakanda One Village in East Africa. With the groundbreaking set for the end of 2020, Dr. Arikana is looking to raise 2 billion USD before the due date. Consequently, the idea is to give Africans in Diaspora a reason to come home.
“We are looking at raising at least US$2 billion…with the first groundbreaking set for the end of the year 2020. We are going to build the Africa that we want so those diasporas… will [therefore] make it what they want.”
Central Bank Of Nigeria Did Not Ban Textile Imports. Here Is What They Did Instead
On the 5th of March 2019, a Facebook post by the Nigerian Tribune, one of the leading tabloids in the country alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has banned the importation of textiles into the country.
However, this is not an accurate representation of what happened. What the Central Bank of Nigeria did was add textile to items no longer eligible for foreign exchange. The governor of CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said
“Effective immediately, the CBN hereby places the access to FX for all forms of textile materials on the FX restriction list.”
Making the announcement, the CBN Governor said the decision was to help revive the moribund industry. The CBN will continue to support cotton lint importation for use by textile factories. However, textile factories will have to make plans to source their cotton locally by 2020.
Businesspeople who import goods into the country buy foreign exchange from authorized dealers majorly banks. They use this foreign currency to pay their suppliers. The announcement means textile importers can no longer access the foreign exchange. This applies to other importers of items on the list. This brings the total amount of items on the restricted list to 41. However, in December 2018, CBN added fertilizer to the list to bring the total to 42.
How the policy will affect importers
The Central Bank of Nigeria trades 1 USD for 305 Naira. However, importers cannot buy the USD at the CBN rate for items on the restricted list. They will have to seek for foreign exchange from other sources including the black market. However, at the black market, the USD sells as high as 360N per USD and above.
Nigeria’s economy is largely dependent on the sale of crude oil. Following the plunge of oil price in 2015 which sank the country into recession, the CBN decided to ration foreign exchange to ensure it doesn’t run out of reserves. The CBN stated that,
“For the avoidance of doubt, please note that the importation of these items are not banned, thus importers desirous of importing these items shall do so using their funds without any recourse to the Nigerian exchange markets.”
What this means to the textile industry
According to the CBN, the policy is to boost the local production of the items on the list. The textile industries in the country are struggling to survive due to flooding of the market with foreign textile. Reacting to the ban, David Ibidapo, an economic and financial analyst said,
“This is a good initiative by the CBN, because if you look at what we spend on importation it is about 50 percent of our budget deficit. And imagine if that amount is being generated internally, it will automatically impact on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
The CBN also has an importer/exporter window which facilitates currency exchange between buyers and sellers. In addition to lowering the pressure on FOREX, Mr. Ibidapo is of the opinion that,
“This will also inspire local production of textile with the single digit rate the CBN is promising local textile industries that are interested in getting loans.”
List of items shut out from CBN foreign exchange
- Palm kernel/palm oil products/vegetable oils
- Vegetable and processed vegetable products
- Poultry-chicken, eggs, turkey
- Private airplanes/jets
- Indian incense
- Tinned fish in sauce
- Cold rolled steel sheets
- Galvanized steel sheets
- Roofing sheets
- Head pans
- Metal boxes and containers
- Steel drums
- Steel pipes
- Wire rods (deformed and not deformed)
- Iron rods and reinforcing bars
- Wire mesh
- Steel nails
- Security and razor wire
- Wood particle boards and panels
- Wood fiber boards and panels
- Plywood boards and panels
- Wooden doors
- Glass and glassware
- Kitchen utensils
- Woven fabrics
- Plastic and rubber products, cellophane wrappers
- Soap and cosmetics
- Tomatoes/tomato pastes
- Euro bond/foreign currency bond/ share purchases
There are viable industries in the country producing items on the list. For example, Nigerian rice production has grown to 9.86 million tonnes in 2017 from 353,000 tonnes in 1968. Dangote Cement is among the largest producers of cement in the continent. However, the flooding of the market with foreign goods and the consumer preference for these goods is adversely affecting the growth of local industries.
Kenya’s Mobile Money M-Pesa to Become Available on AliExpress
Safaricom has secured a deal that will enable users to pay for online shopping at AliExpress using M-pesa. AliExpress is an online shopping platform run by Alibaba Group—A Chinese e-Commerce giant. This deal means that, in a few weeks time, Kenyan shoppers can use M-pesa to pay for goods on the platform.
Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, will be offering M-pesa as one of the payment options. Ant Financial is the Group’s affiliate that runs payment services. The deal targets microtraders across Kenya who source or import their supplies and goods from manufacturers in China. Shopping for goods from China will now be easier and more convenient.
Launched in 2007, M-pesa is a mobile money service that has not only facilitated transactions of businesses in Kenya, but has also transformed lives. Kenyans can literally pay for anything using the mobile money platform. They can use M-pesa to pay for medical services, school fees, and utility bills. The platform also offers loans and savings to the 21 million users in Kenya.
Under the new deal with Alibaba, Kenyans will be able to select M-pesa as the preferred payment method. Total cost will then be displayed in Kenyan shillings. The standard Lipa Na M-pesa Paybill charges will still apply. The new service with Alibaba comes under the M-pesa Global banner, which allows users to send and receive money globally.
AliExpress in Kenya
AliExpress is available to all Kenyans who have access to the Internet. With a wide internet coverage and easy access to Smartphones in the country, this means that anyone planning to shop online can use AliExpress.
Compared to Alibaba, shoppers can buy products in smaller quantities on AliExpress. Alibaba mostly sells goods on wholesale. The integration with M-pesa means that shoppers can complete all the transactions on their mobile phone and have their goods delivered at their locations. Previously, AliExpress only allowed payments through bank transfer, Western Union, Master Card, and Visa.
The deal between Alibaba and Safaricom puts AliExpress at a strategic advantage in the online shopping market in Kenya. The addition of M-pesa payment method minimizes apathy associated with online shopping. The new service means shoppers can order and pay for goods at the comfort of their homes, office, colleges, or whichever location.
AliExpress continues to compete with other online shopping platforms in the country that include Jumia, Kilimall, OLX, Shopit, Mimi, Avechi, Pigiame, Electrohub, and Amanbo. In 2017, Safaricom introduced its e-Commerce platform, Masoko.
- Explore Africa3 weeks ago
There Is A Growing List of African Countries That Allow Dual Citizenship
- Explore Africa3 weeks ago
20 Modern African Women Leaders Who Are Opening New Trails For Women
- TV and Movies2 months ago
5 Must Watch African Centered Movies Streaming on Netflix (January 2019)
- Explore Africa3 months ago
Ghanaians Vote For 6 New Regions In Referendum
- Business and Development3 months ago
REG Moves to Support The Rwandan Government Plan to Ease Doing Business in Rwanda
- Hair3 months ago
15 surprisingly simple natural hair tutorials with stunning results
- Arts & Culture4 weeks ago
Beyonce Wears Ankara Suit By Nigerian Designer to UTA Artist Space Event
- Business and Development2 months ago
These 3 African Countries Are Minting Millionaires At A Rate Faster Than The United States