LONDON stool still for Africa, weekend, as African fashion buffs, art entrepreneurs, politicians, designers, super models, and celebrities met in the prestigious Dorchester Hotel, London for the inaugural African Arts and Fashion Banquet to raise funds to support endowed designers from Africa. The banquet marked the end of this year’s edition of Africa Fashion Week London which started two days earlier.
The event hosted by Abuja-based celebrity and fashion icon, Princess Fifi Ejindu, who is a patron of Africa Fashion Week London, was also graced by Ghanaian actress Nadia Buhari, singer Misha B, pop star Alexandra Burke, style icon Bianca Jagger, TV presenter June Sarpong and others.
Princess Fifi Ejindu said the banquet was a fundraiser to support extremely talented designers. She told CNN, “We have all the natural resources and all the talent in Africa but we should not leave it to just our leaders to help us progress. If each of us was to sweep our own doorstep, the world would become a cleaner place.”
Wife of the Cross River State governor and founder/Board chair of Partnership Opportunities for Women Empowerment Realization, POWER, Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke was one of the eminent Africans at the event and one of the speakers too.
In her paper entitled “Development NGOs as Catalysts for Securing Africa’s Future through Women Entrepreneurship” she told the audience how NGOs in Africa are serving as an alternative to government by facilitating developmental process in health, education, agriculture, gender and several other areas of life.
Mrs. Liyel-Imoke spoke passionately about the wealth of Africa and need to harness it. She advocated increased entrepreneurial pursuit in Africa highlighting the critical role development NGOs are playing in securing Africa’s future and the need to empower female entrepreneurs.
She shared her personal experience of how her NGO, POWER, is facilitating support for women in Cross River State and through this, contributing to the development of the economy of Cross River State. POWER, according to her, was envisioned to put money in the hands of a woman. Its vision is to ensure that women meet all their basic needs. In achieving this, it has a mission which is encapsulated in being “the leading NGO in Africa working for the eradication of extreme poverty among women through evidence-driven vulnerability-reduction initiatives, enterprise development and capacity building
She also used the opportunity to market Cross River State especially its tourism destinations and brands including the yearly Carnival Calabar. She shared how the carnival has impacted on the personal and state economies.
She said that Cross River State economy is tourism-driven, adding, “the government has created tourism brands on which several economic activities are hinged.
For instance, the famed yearly carnival goes far beyond the gay moments, colourful display and dance on the 12 kilometre walk around the city of Calabar. Beyond the glitter, dance and drama is a huge economic empowerment platform especially for the women of the state that are involved in all segments of the carnival including the production of memorabilia and art and craft which they sell to discerning visitors to the state during that period”.
According to her, vendor booths on the carnival routes create marketing opportunities for local vendors of products that are on demand on that day such as water, hats among others.