Africa will change the luxury world of tomorrow

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto19 mai 2022

The first investment company dedicated to African luxury brands, Birimian Ventures, based in Abidjan, continues to develop, and aims at gaining a portfolio of thirty luxury houses from its continent.

Loza Maleomhbo, from the Ivory Coast, is ranked as the seventh most promising young entrepreneur by Forbes Africa (Maison Trendy)

Leading the Birimian Ventures initiative, Laureeen Kouassi Olsson is a very well-known businesswoman in Africa, famous for her intuitions and knowledge of the international finance world. Major figure in capital investment, she has been heading different industrial and financial groups in the African continent.  

Fintech and mobile money, two development levers

Chairwoman of the group for many years, she continues to aim at valuing young designers, by pushing them to climb the ladder of international markets, while supporting their marketing and financial strategy. The business model of Kouassi Olsson is mainly digital, as in Africa the fashion sector is penalized by challenges related to creating physical infrastructures dedicated to sales, distribution, logistics and stocks.



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The development of an elite on the continent is strongly influencing the growth of the luxury sector in Africa (Shutterstock)

To overcome these inconveniences, fintech and mobile money are powerful levers which today enable the growth of many economic sectors. E-shopping and social media have thus become important vehicles to boost demand in terms of fashion luxury. The development of online transaction systems is accelerating, so much so that several states have started to codify and regulate competition. It is the case of Ghana for example, where Parliament has adopted a 1.75% tax applied to all transactions over 12 euros. It is also the case in Cameroun, where a 0.2% tax perceived on mobile money operations was recently approved last month, unleashing a wave of protests by consumers.

In this context, Birimian Ventures brings help to African entrepreneurs in fashion and luxury, by offering mentoring programs and strategic as well as operational support for start-ups, by constantly considering exponential development of new payment methods and fintech.

Avoid losing African craftsmanship to big foreign groups

Laureen Kouassi Olsson, a renowned African businesswoman, is at the head of Birimian Ventures (

The name Birimian adopted by its founder is in fact meaningful. It comes from the Western African region famous for its gold mines and precious stones. It is from there that are extracted a great number of African diamonds. And although half the global production comes from Africa, incomes that stem from the precious stone business are very low for Africans. Laureen Kouassi Olsson doesn’t wish this to affect new companies related to fashion and luxury which are multiplying on the continent. A pool of talent, creativity and know-how which could have once again become subject to foreign investment, multiplying profit by sidelining the local economy, penalized by the lack of access to capital due to limitations in distribution networks, and by the weakness in production organization.

The objective of Birimian Ventures is to exit this spiral and to support African companies, by creating strategic partnerships, such as the European company of capital management, Trail, for example. In parallel it launched a development program with the French Fashion Institute, dedicated to the annual support of a few selected brands among emerging houses on the Continent and among the diasporas. 

African brands on the rise

The Ghanaian brand, Christie Brown (Mwafrika Concept)

Among the young brands that standout in the Birimian Ventures galaxy, there is Christie Brown, from Ghana. This ready-to-wear brand has received international recognition thanks to its collaboration with stars as famous as Alicia Keys or Beyoncé. We can also mention Loza Maleomhbo, rising star of African fashion design, originally from the Ivory Coast, and ranked seventh of the thirty under thirty most promising entrepreneurs, by Forbes Africa.  

The work of the young company Mille Collines is also remarkable, a fashion brand born from the idea of a Kigali seamstress today developed in Rwanda, Kenya, and South Africa.

Brands that use traditional know-how are many. It is the case of Post-Imperial (Nigeria), which uses an ancient hand-made dyeing technique invented by the Yoruba, a people from the South-West of Nigeria. Another Nigerian label, This is Us, also stems from its local roots and uses local cotton, Funtua, which is dyed by hand in the ancient dyeing caves of Kofar Mata, in the city of Kano.

Mille Collines is a fashion brand developed in Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa (Afrodyssée)

The venture capital company founded by Laureen Kouassi Olsson also enables talent from Africa to come back to their country and continue their entrepreneurship adventure started abroad: it is the case of the Shekudo brand, a shoe brand born in Australia and now set in Lagos, Nigeria. The brand designer, Akudo Iheakanwa hopes to contribute to developing local economy by underlying Nigerian artisanship.

In a five-year span, Birimian Ventures aims at reaching a portfolio of twenty to thirty luxury and premium brands and houses. For the incubation phase, the expected entry ticket varies between USD 30,000 and USD 70,000. For the subsequent acceleration phase between USD 80,000 and USD 500,000 and at the growth capital stage, the figure can be between USD 500,000 and USD 3 million.

 Indeed, while the luxury sector weighs 2.5 billion euros on the entire African countries, far from Chinese records, the continent sees the development of an ultra-connected elite, mainly in Nigeria, South Africa, or even Ghana. These African megacities destined to become new hubs of attraction for traditional European luxury brands, are mainly a one-of-a-kind lever for African rising stars.

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