FeW Model Management, Africa’s most renowned model-scouting agency, has announced the launch of ‘Going Africa’.
This is just as they also revealed plans to expand and redefine its operations around the globe, in order to give modeling opportunities to more women across Africa.
This is coming after the company announced the inclusion of the curved body size models on its management board, and expanded its scouting tour locations to cover more than 10 African countries.
In a statement signed by the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Bolajo Fawehinmi, she said ‘Going Africa’, was a replacement of its two years successfully executed model search, ‘FeW’s Next Face Africa’.
According to her, Going Africa was created to give hope with no competitiveness amongst already deserving women, with an aim to discover impact and generate wealth for women irrespective of their statistics or nationality.
Since its inception in 2014, FeW has received distinguishing recognition for its discovery of diverse and unique modelling talents and their placements in top international model management companies.
Its operating strategy has also provided the agency with a unique advantage that allows a wide spectrum of collaborations across several international model management partners all over the world.
Fawehinmi said the expansion and cancellation of the FeW’s Next Face competition would open a platform for a wider range of opportunities within the modelling industry for African women.
“FeW is a company with a management capacity set at 50 talents yearly by choice and by our 2019 policy to keep and create a tailored management style for each managed talent.
“If we have the capacity (our wealth) of 50 while creating a platform to find one person; why not create a platform to have the 50 compete for a capacity that we can already give.”
Speaking on some achievements of FeW, she said, “2021 ends our time at an amazing platform that has given us numerous names such as Eniola Abioro who at 2016 competition was discovered and began her international appearance in 2018 with an income less than N20,000, to a wealth generation valued since 2018 till date at over $1 million.
“Daberechi Kalu was our winner in 2016 with a wealth valued at not less than $300,000. Dotain Yeshitela, our 2018 winner, was a girl who was a fresh graduate from high school and who depended on her parents for pocket money now with wealth valued at not less than N300,000.
“We gave a platform to young talents to dream and generate their wealth; it’s time to expand that reach, to give the platform to EVERY WOMAN in the right deserving bracket.
“Going Africa for every woman hopes to become an avenue to take modelling to all women,” she noted.
In the face of rising unemployment, poor funding, and a pandemic, Goldberg’s Isedowo gives artisans a voice, Chiamaka Ozulumba reports
Artisans are storytellers. Through their sheer imagination and craftsmanship, they tell evergreen stories. And while they exist in billions with individual differences, their works have a specific connection to their roots or sensibilities that can only be described in three words: local, ethical, and original.
Artisanal works are usually bespoke. Whether it is the baker down the street, who is famed for his milk bread; the blacksmith who makes life-size sculptures that immortalise people, art, and culture, or the simple roadside hairstylist attending to a long list of clients waiting to get their hair braided into beautiful patterns that reflect their unique personalities. The artisan’s handiwork sets them apart from commercially made products or services.
Artisans are not a new feature in society, though. They form the very backbone of the informal economy since the medieval times. In recent years, artisan enterprises have continually steered the economies of many countries into prosperity by providing employment. And unlike the formal sector that has a proclivity to favour the male gender to secure a career, the artisanal space is somewhat gender-neutral, serving as an empowerment platform for women and children, pre and post-independence.
Globally, the artisan sector is the second-largest employer in developing countries like Nigeria. Artisans are embedded into the informal sector that accounts for about 65 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which makes it surprising that the informal sector does not adequately benefit from sufficient funding or an enabling environment.
Compounding the sector’s woes is the influx of foreign commodities manufactured at an industrial scale. Due to the relatively cheap value of imported commercial goods, most individuals tend to forgo locally made products, leaving the local artisan economy to dwindle.
But despite these daunting challenges, the artisan space continues to expand due to the low capital investment required, accessibility provided by e-commerce avenues, and the distinctiveness of each product, consumers are now drawn to artisanal works, now more than ever. As of 2020, the global artisan market was valued at US$ 718 billion, almost doubling from its 2017 estimate of US$526.5 billion.
On the home front, the federal government, in its bid to ensure that local artisans have a piece of the ‘artisanal’ pie, encouraged local artisans with one-time grants through its Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
Similarly, pioneer brewing company, Nigerian Breweries, under its Goldberg Isedowo initiative, has since 2017, provided local artisans in the southwestern region of Nigeria with non-repayable grants, to tackle the problem of funding and help artisans bolster production to meet demands.
In a sit-down with Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Kehinde Kadiri, described Isedowo as a lifeline for artisans. Furthermore, she noted the progress the initiative has attained through grants and the recent mentorship program.
“As a brand that has immense prominence in the South-west of Nigeria in terms of shares in the beer market, we are pleased to see the number of people who are eager to receive these grants and support their businesses”.
“It is important to not just give people monetary support but to show them how they can utilise it. The brilliant approach of the initiative was pairing them with experts in their field, who will help them improve their skills leveraging the years of invaluable experience,” she added.
Since its inception, the program has empowered over 750 businesses across the region. The 2021 edition visited 10 locations that included Agege, Abeokuta, Ikotun, Osogbo, Ikorodu, Saki, Lakowe Epe, Ibadan, Ado Ekiti, and Akure. At each location, ten winners emerged, with each of them getting a reward of N200,000. With all locations visited, the initiative has disbursed a total amount of N20,000,000.
One of the winners, Princess Akinlayo, a fashion designer, embodied the vision of the initiative to empower artisans, who in turn will empower others. After receiving the grant, she revealed how she plans on absorbing new trainees under her tutelage. She said: “With the seed money, I can empower some youths who want to be fashion designers but do not have that privilege.”
Her focus on empowering others comes at a time (pandemic) when most individuals are seeking means to secure a livelihood. Data from the World Bank shows that 42 percent of overall job losses in April/May 2020, could be traced to COVID-19, with a higher percentage of lost employment among the poorest (49 per cent) and urban (48 per cent) households. The last quarter of 2020 also revealed an increased unemployment rate to 33.3 per cent (23.3 million), up from 27.1 per cent in Q2 2020.
Further from providing grants to businesses, Goldberg’s Isedowo also emphasises the potential mentoring artisan has in improving their skills to compete with their counterparts on the international stage.
With this objective, it handpicked individuals from the field of photography and fashion design to enroll in a mentorship program. Each mentee is currently working under Fashion Tailor Mai Atafo, and Photographer Kelechi Amadi respectively.
It is no surprise that Goldberg Lager Beer is taking this route of preserving culture and history through artisans whilst improving livelihoods. In recent times, it launched Ariya Repete, a music talent show that scouts for talent who make indigenous music peculiar to the southwest region.
With its investment in artisans, Isedowo kick-starts a chain reaction that ensures artisans are well equipped to express their creativity, and in turn, realise a livelihood. While enjoying the progress, the Isedowo initiative impacts directly on their businesses, these artisans will continue on their roles of contributing immensely to the creative world, preserving culture, and more importantly, boosting the overall economy.