With ambitions to establish the first luxury group of the African continent, Roberta Annan, an award-winning entrepreneur of Ghanaian decent, has launched the Impact Fund for African Creatives (IFFAC). It is one of the first long-term capital vehicles which seeks to leverage the untapped talent and commercial power of Africa’s creative industries.
“This is a week where Africa makes history,” said Annan in a statement. “Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize, who was an early beneficiary of our support, is the first African to open Paris Fashion Week. And today, near the close of the event, we launch IFFAC with the ambition to consolidate luxury brands on the continent, and by doing so, contribute to Africa’s sustainable economic development.”
The African brands featured at the launch , and which make up IFFAC ’s investment portfolio companies include, Kenneth Ize, ETHOS Members Club, Chef Coco, GM & Ahrens, MANSA by Ebony Skincare and the Ambassador’s Collective comprised of Adama Paris, Orange Culture, Emmy Kasbit, Elie Kuame and Bello Edu.
IFFAC’s unveiling comes at a time when African culture is getting a bigger highlight on the international stage from fashion to music. Yet attracting investment remains a challenge—only 1.1 percent of investment in African start-ups went to creative industries in 2019. Many African countries also lack formal educational opportunities for young people interested creative careers, and many entrepreneurs lack the business management skills to commercialize their talent.
The fund will support African professionals with the skills, network, and capital needed to reach a global audience. It will award grants and early-stage investments to qualified businesses, while also providing a structured form of technical and vocational skills training and a mentorship and networking platform.
“The creative industry in Africa is an increasingly important part of the investment mix for the future of the African economy, and we are currently curating projects in this sector that will feature at the AIF 2021 Market Days in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire in December. I applaud IFFAC and its investors for its vision and its commitment to social equity and environmental sustainability in its operations,” said Chinelo Anohu, senior director of the African Investment Forum, in a statement.
The idea for IFFAC grew out of the African Fashion Foundation, which Annan founded in 2011 to empower emerging designers on the continent.
“When I was just starting to build my brand, the support I received from Roberta and the African Fashion Foundation was essential,” said Kenneth Ize, whose show opened Paris Fashion Week last Monday, in a statement. “That support was what allowed me to elevate my work to a global audience.”
IFFAC will award grants of 10,000 – 50,000 euros to selected projects. Entrepreneurs who successfully complete certain skill-building exercises will be eligible to receive 250,000 – 2 million euros as venture capital toward an approved business plan. Key considerations in selection criteria will include proof of concept, compatibility with IFFAC focus areas, regional and global scalability, and a growth mindset focused on value creation.
Based in Accra, Ghana, Roberta Annan is the founder of the African Fashion Foundation and managing partner of Annan Capital Partners (ACP), which has been advising some of the world’s most prestigious funds and corporate investors for over a decade. She is the youngest African to be inducted into the African Leadership Hall of Fame and is a global thought leader in the fashion industry. She sits on the Advisory Council for the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design and has been recognized as a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for her advocacy on sustainability in the sector.
“I have encountered so much incredible talent all over the continent, such originality and innovation,” concluded Annan in a statement. “But I have also noticed a lack of management skills, infrastructure, and start-up capital necessary to scale these creative businesses. This is the motivation behind IFFAC.”