Africa : Redefining the Uganda apparel market

By Martyn Tumwesigye

January 14, 2015 Africa  At the Africa workshop in Kololo Hill Lane, two fat cats lie lazily in the drive way. The mid-afternoon sun sifts through the tree branches hitting my face when suddenly my phone rings. On the phone is Olga Mugyenyi, the Creative Director of Africa; “I will be there in a few minutes Martin” she said. Her house keeper leads me up to the waiting lounge as I wait for Olga to arrive. A couple of minutes later, Olga arrives and after salutations she leads me up the stairs to their offices, making our way through the first room which has a couple of work stations with iMac computers and there’s a kitchen sink on one end and an hour glass with black sand; “This is our work place, we share it with Kinaya, our sister advertising agency” she explains.

We proceed to the second room where she offers me a seat on a couch which has brightly coloured cushions with ‘In your face’ slogans on them. One cushion reads: ‘Matatu Airways. Buli Stage…..Buli Daily’. “Do you guys make these?” I ask, “Yes! And they retail for 35,000 UGX.” She says.

For those not familiar with the Africa brand and what they do, they are a t-shirt store in Kampala at the newly opened Acacia Mall (1st Floor) and their aim is to have products that are 100% African made while redefining the market place on the African continent and beyond. They want to redefine the consumer while redefining the value of ‘African’.

Olga’s other partners are Nahida Bhegani, who is in charge of production and Nadia Bhegani, the merchandising and stylist director. Olga Mugyenyi and Nahida Bhegani are the conceptual founders of Africa.

Initially the Africa journey that started with t-shirts and has blossomed into a successful brand that produces  apparel for men, women, kids, home/interior decor (Wall art), things like cushions, umbrellas, badges, notebooks, pens, kitchen apparel (aprons, wine tots), bow ties, foot stools, table mats, an accessory line (jewellery, bags, hats/caps, scarves) dog collars and dog leashes, as well as a wide range of products. “But our main bread and butter is our t-shirts.” explains Olga. Africa  How do they come up with their in your face concepts?

“We try to look at the world around us” She says, “We often approach it from a semi-comical angle. The idea was to have t-shirts that you can relate to given the Ugandan context, so while its fine to wear a t-shirt that says GAP, it specifically speaks from an American perspective. But why would a Ugandan wear a t-shirt that promotes American, Jamaican or Caribbean culture? It begs the question: What do we have that is representative of the life that we live as Ugandans? So things that we see every day and are specifically Ugandan, inspire us. Things like Matooke or Boda Bodas, Matatus, Kalolis (Marabou Storks) you know? These are things we zero in on. Usually there’s something out there for everybody.” She explains.

Their tag line is ‘African made, African trade’. “We believe in making products with designs that speak of us with materials made by us. We believe in trade, not aid. Buying African products with pride and supporting the African industry with pride while at the same time changing the perception of local production and increasing the value of African products, which leads us to our 3 star rating on all our products.

_MG_5687 (1280x1035)Does the design speak of Africa?

Was it printed in Africa?

Was it produced in Africa?

As a consumer, we want to keep you informed. Our goal is to get 3 solid stars on all of our products.” explains Olga.

Price Range

With a range of products, Africa has something for everyone, from toddlers to the grown-ups.

  • Polo shirts cost 50,000 UGX
  • T-shirts cost 35,000 UGX
  • Kids t-shirts cost 25,000 UGX
  • Bags start from 35,000 UGX (Depending on the bag)
  • Kids dresses cost 37,000 UGX (Ages 2 – 10)
  • Ngyenzi Scarves retail for 50,000 UGX each. Africa  With a vast range of product lines, they have a specific line called ‘Signature Tees’, where they invite people to submit designs and if they happen to make it through their approval process, they are printed and you make a substantial amount of profit on each t-shirt sold. Africa’s Nahida Bhegani, recently (6th August 2014) became the overall winner of the first ever Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE)  Award Uganda, a programme by the British Council in Uganda and will showcase Africa’s product lines at the London Fashion Week and will also be show casing at the Kampala Fashion Week taking place from 13th – 15th November 2014.

Drop by their store and buy yourself a tee with a cool ‘In Your Face’ slogan like ‘RUN KLA’, or my favourite, the ‘Boda Boda’ tee. And while you’re there, why not pick out a gift for your family or loved one during the festive season!

Open from 9AM – 9PM, Monday – Sunday. Africa, located in the Acacia Mall, also prints custom & corporate orders. For a quotation, get in touch with them at:

Mobile: +256 (0) 790 914 924

Or you can keep up with their latest creations/ Sale offers/ promotions on their Facebook Page:


Discover Uganda’s holiday delights with the Discover Uganda TV Show. See more here!

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