Africa on Your Feet


Advances in how we eat, shop, commute, communicate, socialize, and mate, date, and cohabitate can be directly tied to the brilliant ideas that are brought to fruition by entrepreneurs each and every day.  We all know that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking in the United States.


Entrepreneurism is good for economies.  Strong, innovative start-ups scale quickly, creating jobs and consumer demand for products and services.

Women and men are innovating in every part of the world — including urban, rural, and suburban areas.  This is especially true in many countries in Africa, a continent traditionally marred by numerous socio-economic barriers to development.  The bottom 10 world’s poorest countries in the world are located in Africa.  Youth unemployment in many countries is often reported at nearly 50%, a statistic that becomes increasingly dire when you consider that close to one-third of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa is between the ages of 10 – 24.

Entrepreneurism is one space where Africa’s population — at all age categories — is making significant strides.  The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported the top 10 countries for Total early stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA), of which Sub-Saharan Africa is the leading region (5 out of the 10 reported countries) with the highest percentage of adults who are starting or recently launched a business.

Africa also leads the rest of the world when you look at entrepreneurship through a gendered lens.  Out of the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of female adults who are either new business owners, 6 are in Africa.  To put this into perspective, in Nigeria and Zambia, 40.7% of women have recently launched a business; in the United States, 10.4% of women have recently launched a company.  While there may be cultural, economic, social, and/or political differences as to why women in various parts of the world launch a business, the fact is that female entrepreneurship



Take for example the African apparel and footwear industry—industries where women often take the lead in business ownership.  An article in The Business of Fashion (BOF) recently reported that Sub-Saharan Africa’s apparel and footwear market is currently worth $31 billion. Yes, $31 billion.

I’d like to give a big congratulations to each and every female entrepreneur and woman owned business who is a part of this ecosystem, driving innovation, and bringing new and exciting products to the African market.

I would like to give a shout out to one company in particular that I’ve known for a few months that embodies the passion, creative spirit, and determination that it takes to make a company successful.

Buqisi-Ruux was founded by cousins and business partners; Nuba Elamin, Lynn Bugaari, and Tetsi Bugaari. Nuba, Lynn, and Tetsi use shoes as a platform to tell the story of African women.  And, “platform” can be interpreted literally and figuratively in this case — their 4+ inch platform heals are certainly turning heads.  While their love of fashion played a significant role in the creation of their company, these three smart women also saw a significant need in the market — comfortable, easy to walk in, high heels that create a sense of “wow” for the wearer. This is clearly how every woman wants to feel when she wears Buqisi-Ruux — bold, vibrant, and alive.  Buqisi-Ruux means “Queen of the Village.”  Buqisi comes from an ancient Egyptian word meaning “Queen” and Ruux represents their hometown of Rukungiri.  The brand — and the women behind the brand — are loyal to their African heritage, their family and community, and want each and every woman to have the same sense of pride when she wears her Buqisi-Ruux shoes.

The vibrant patterns are sourced locally. Each shoe is named after an inspirational African woman who is shaping the future of Africa.  Their first collection, “Kwanza” was named after the women in their family.


Photos courtesy of Chocolatey Prints


The first time I tried on a pair of Buqisi-Ruux, I was having lunch in a Manhattan French restaurant with a special advisor to the company.  (Insider scoop…I have a shoe closet full of unwearable, insanely high heeled shoes.  I call this my “shoe museum.” Pretty to look at….and that’s about it.)  I took a casual stroll around the restaurant to test for comfort and ease of walkability…and I have to admit, I was incredibly impressed.  Within seconds, women were commenting on the shoes, the beautiful prints and how good they looked on my feet.  Now I’m a big fan of the brand and the inspirational women that are passionate about creating worth for themselves, their communities, their country, and their continent.

Buqisi-Ruux wants to expand to new markets, sharing with the world their culture and vision.  They are also focused on sustainability and improving quality throughout their value chain.  Their newest line, the “Mukamakazi Collection” is influenced by African Queens, who simultaneously embody power, resilience, and elegance.  Buqisi-Ruux has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Plum Alley to make this expansion possible.  Please join me in supporting female entrepreneurship and Nuba, Lynn, and Tetsi in their goal to expand vision.

You can support their campaign at:

I can’t wait to see what shoes you’ve selected!

By Jan Mercer Dahms 


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