Scaling African Fashion: Notable Investments and Support Programs

The African fashion industry is experiencing a transformative wave of investment, with several emerging platforms securing significant funding to scale their operations and enhance their market presence. Here, we highlight some notable funding achievements as well as organizations committed to supporting African fashion entrepreneurs.
Notable Funding Achievements


The Folklore


The Folklore, a platform for emerging designers, recently secured $3.4 million in seed funding. According to The Business of Fashion, this round was led by venture capital firm Benchstrength, with additional investments from Techstars, Black Tech Nation Ventures, and Slauson and Co. This financial boost will support The Folklore’s strategic transition from an e-commerce site selling African and diasporic fashion to a business-to-business (B2B) model, aimed at helping emerging brands access retail markets.


The Folklore plans to enhance its wholesale management software and marketplace technology, which connects brands with global retailers such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. Future developments include a talent recruitment platform, services for purchase order financing and credit lines, and a resource center for entrepreneurs.




Jendaya, a startup facilitating the discovery of African brands and luxury items, raised £1 million (~$1.2 million) and closed the last round of pre-seed funding on February 10, 2023.  The London-based but Africa-focused platform was founded by CEO Ayotunde Rufai, COO Kemi Adetu, CCO Teni Sagoe, and CSO David Elikwu. The startup launched in December 2021 and received investments from Sabi CEO Anu Adedoyin Adasolum, Ada VC, Culture Capital, actress Maisie Williams, and music celebrities Bizzle Osikoya and Asa Asika.




ANKA, formerly Afrikrea, is an Ivorian e-commerce platform founded by Moulaye Taboure, Kadry Diallo, and Luc B. Perussault Diallo. ANKA serves as a marketplace for Africa-based and inspired fashion, clothing, accessories, arts, and crafts. Supporting over 7,000 sellers from 47 African countries and buyers from 170 countries, ANKA exports more than 10 tons of cargo monthly from Africa.


By 2021, 6 years after its launch in 2016, ANKA had raised a total of $2.1 million according to TechCrunch. Investors in this early stage of raising included LoftyInc Capital and Kepple Africa Ventures. Continuing its growth efforts, the company secured $6.2 million in pre-Series A funding in January 2022. This round was led by Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) and included contributions from Alibaba executive Joseph Tsai, the BESTSELLER Foundation, VestedWorld, Enigmo, Groupe Prunay, Rising Tide Africa, and SAVIU Ventures.


Subsequently, in September 2023, ANKA announced the closure of a $5 million pre-Series A extension round led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with participation from Proparco and the French Public Investment Bank.


Proparco notes that ANKA’s total current investment to date is $13.5 million. ANKA plans to use these funds for product development and to expand its services, aiming to encourage and further develop African entrepreneurship on a global scale.


Africa Focused Funding and Fashion Support Entities


In addition to these investments in the African fashion space, there has been a growth in organizations providing funding specifically for the African fashion industry. Below are several of these entities, which, in addition to helping creatives access capital, also provide education and networking opportunities.




Founded in 2013, HEVA Fund addresses the sustainability of the cultural and creative industries in Africa by providing innovative financing solutions. The fund supports youth-led and women-led digital and creative enterprises, promotes business and intellectual property ownership, and contributes to sustainable livelihoods for cultural practitioners and artisans.


Impact Fund for African Creatives (IFFAC)


IFFAC offers technical and financial assistance to transform businesses in the African creative and cultural industry into sustainable enterprises, covering 16 sub-sectors of Africa’s Cultural and Creative Industry.


Birimian Ventures


Birimian Ventures is an investment company that supports African heritage luxury and premium brands by offering long-term capital, institutional support, strategic advice, and operational excellence.


Collectif Ivoirien de Design (CID)


Influential Ivorian labels Kente Gentlemen, Loza Maléombho, OLOOH Concept, Renwa, and Lafalaise Dion formed an alliance to establish the Collectif Ivoirien de Design. Their collective mission is to unify, collaborate, mentor, and educate in fashion design and craftsmanship, not just in Côte d’Ivoire but beyond the African continent.


SEED Ambition


Nigerian designer Andrea Iyamah founded SEED Ambition to provide resources for the growth and development of African creatives in fashion, art, design, beauty, and media. SEED Ambition offers access to classes, networking, partnerships, and financing to help creatives structure and grow successful businesses.


The significant funding secured by The Folklore, Jendaya, and ANKA underscores the dynamic potential within Africa’s fashion industry. These ventures can achieve remarkable progress with the backing of diverse investors. However, the industry’s growth continues to be challenged by limited access to capital for small businesses. Organizations such as Birimian Ventures, IFFAC, HEVA Fund, CID and SEED Ambition are crucial in bridging this gap. By providing essential support through mentorship, investment, and training programs, these organizations are fostering a more inclusive and thriving fashion landscape across the continent. This concerted effort promises to empower African designers, enabling them to scale their businesses and reach a global audience.




Header Image via Jendaya


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