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CNN meets Nigerian footwear designer Kene Rapu

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On this week’s episode of African Voices, CNN International meets Nigerian footwear designer, Kene Rapu to learn more about how she grew her business and became the successful entrepreneur she is today.

Rapu explains how her interest in fashion began at an early age: “I was always, it sounds a little bit cliché, but I was always stylish because I was passionate, people would ask me for advice. Modelling got me into the fashion world [and I] made a lot of connections from working with Lagos Fashion and Design Week over the years… I did some beauty competitions, I was interested in fashion and beauty, but I wouldn’t say that I knew I was going to get into fashion as a business.”

She explains how a career in fashion wasn’t her first choice and that she originally studied law: “As a Nigerian, you always go for something safe and lawyers are safe… I figured out during my law school year that I didn’t want to practice law… I decided I wanted to go into fashion. I went back to the London College of Fashion and got a master’s degree in fashion entrepreneurship.”
Rapu began designing shoes after experiencing limited shoe options. She tells CNN: “I don’t wear heels, so I am very limited in my choice of footwear, and that’s how it really started…

Sometimes you would order abroad and having someone [who is] travelling bring it in, or you would have to go and search for something cute. It wasn’t at your door step… I found there was that need, which I didn’t find anyone filling at the time.”

Speaking about how her company started, she explains: “I started from home. I worked with local cobblers [and] we made the slippers. And I remember, everyone was like, ‘Oh, we love your slippers, where did you get them from?’ And people started placing orders. That’s really how [we] started…. We opened our first store three years ago.”

Rapu explains to the programme how her designs are influenced by her identity and why she’s proud to support ‘made in Nigeria’: “Our styles are also very much a reflection of myself. The brand is my name, so it is intertwined. We work a lot with Ankara print, which is sort of linked to Nigeria, and so that has influenced us… You see a lot of Nigerian women wearing this print, so they’re excited when they see the print in slippers, as well… The Nigerian fashion industry is growing… There was a point where no one really used to buy things made in Nigeria. We would either buy things that were imported from abroad or we would shop abroad … We weren’t really buying Nigerian. Overall, I would say the past ten years, there’s almost been a wave to buy Nigerian [products].”
Since starting her business in 2011, Rapu has continued to grow her company and was chosen to participate in the prestigious Tony Elumelu Foundation Program. Moreover, Kene Rapu was named one of Forbes Africa’s top 30 game-changers under 30. About the honour, Rapu tells CNN: “[It] was exciting, which was a great honour. I was very humbled… When I look back, I think, ‘How did this thing even? You know, this is insane. This is ridiculous. How did you get to this level?’”
In addition to running her footwear company, the young designer also helps inspire others and give back to the community. She tells the programme: “I started a workshop series at the end of last year… And by the time we were done they were so happy. They couldn’t even believe it. They were like, ‘There must be a catch. Why would you tell us all this information?’… I feel like because I have been blessed to have exposure, to have a good education, to have access to fantastic mentors, I think it’s only nice to pay it forward.”

On being a woman in business, Rapu simply says: “I’m a woman, obviously, but I see myself as what am I good at? How can I fulfil my purpose? How can I work my hardest? How can I do what I need to do? I feel like we all really just need to work together, to be the best we can be.”

Credit: CNN

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UBA’s Africa Conversations: Leaders Emphasise Importance of History to African Development

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African leading minds have called on Africans to be mindful of their rich history, which according to them creates the path towards the socio-cultural, economic and political development of the continent

The strong African voices which included Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka; Professor emeritus and authority in Sahelian history, Djibril Tamsir Niane; Ghanaian Politician, Samia Nkrumah and Famous Musician, Femi Kuti spoke during the first edition of UBA’s Africa Conversations, a symposium organised by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc at the UBA House in Lagos, as part of activities marking this year’s Africa Day celebrations. The theme of the panel session was “Africa’s History Redefined, Our Past, the Path to the Future”.

Opening the conversation, the Group Chairman, UBA, Tony Elumelu stated ‘UBA understands the past- that Africa as a continent has always been united by the struggle for identity. UBA is a symbol for the development of Africa, for the economic empowerment of our people, the Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the big corporations. Thus, identifying with Africa and indeed Africa Day is synonymous with who we are as a bank. It presents us the opportunity to remind ourselves, the world and indeed Africa that we owe ourselves the duty of making Africa the continent of our dreams.”

Elumelu added that it is important for Africans to remember history as this will help prepare for the future. ‘Our past provides a veritable tool to fashioning the continent’s development, renaissance and economic growth’ he emphasised.

Speaking strongly on the issue, professor Wole Soyinka, who commended UBA’s initiative for opening up discussions on these pressing topics decried the growing erosion of history from the curriculum in African schools, adding that the lack of knowledge of our past makes children’s growth on the continent truncated. “How can we cope with the modern phenomenon if we do not know the past? We should never forget the importance of history as it is not just an academic exercise,” he enthused.

Corroborating Soyinka’s position, Professor Niane opined thatreminiscingabout Africa’s rich history is important as there is no people without history. He said, “A lot of work has been done by Africans and we have to be happy about it. There is the need to continue the conversation about African unity. Policies  have been put in place and our democracy can only get stronger. Peace will reign and Africa will be reunited. Economic transformation is also important but it is not the only thing we should concentrate on.”

Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, who commendedUBA for prioritising African entrepreneurship, called for a renewed attempt at African unity, which according to her, has to be a collective effort of the people.

Nkrumah said, “As we work in our individual smaller countries, it will be easier to achieve more if we work together and complete unification can only come if we work together; we won’t go anywhere unless we use unity as a political project.’ She added.

On his part, Femi Kuti emphasised the importance ofHistory, saying “Our children need to learn this history so that they can come up and build the continent. We need everyone – both boys and girls to work towards this vision.”

The UBA Conversations, an initiative of the Pan African financial institution, aims at aggregating discussions necessary for the growth and development of the continent. It is being held as part of the activities to mark the 2019 edition of Africa Day celebrations by the bank.

With presence in 20 African countries as well as in the United States, France and The United Kingdom, UBA’s passion for Africa’s growth is part of who they are.

The bank is set to continue conversations around these important topics that are required to galvanise the African economy with the aim of attracting the much needed support that will boost SMEs and support business growth on the continent.

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Zenith Bank achieves feat of First Nigerian Bank to Consecutively Audit its Greenhouse Gas (Carbon) Emissions & be Certified Compliant using International Recognize “GHG Protocol

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Zenith Bank Plc was presented with a Certificate for Greenhouse Gas Auditing by V4 Advisors after a successful completion of the Bank’s Greenhouse Gas Audit for the 2018 Financial Year. The presentation of the certificate and the report of the Auditors was done by V4 Advisors at the Zenith Bank Head Office on May 21, 2019.

The Executive Director, Dr. Temitope Fasoranti, who received the certificate on behalf of the Bank said the Bank started this effort with the 2016 Financial Year and has carried out three greenhouse gas audits to date. He explained that the Bank understands the relationship between greenhouse gas emission and climate change and appreciates the role it is expected to play towards combating the menace of climate change.

Also speaking on the milestone, the Country Manager Lynsey Elston highlighted that Zenith Bank is the first Nigerian bank to consecutively report the carbon emissions of their Head Office in Lagos using a certified tool which is built on the internationally recognized “GHG Protocol”. She commended the bank for proving its commitment to United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Goal 13, Climate Action, in addition to complying with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards”.. In response to her, the Executive Director said the initiative has significantly helped the bank reduce its overall carbon footprints and drive energy efficiency.

V4 Advisors is a UAE-based provider of advisory and consulting solutions on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The firm’s calculation and reporting tool has been reviewed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) for conformance with the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard.

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UBA Premieres Most Anticipated Men’s Club Season 2 Trailer

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Lagos, Saturday 18th of May, 2019 was the definition of entertainment success. From the lights to setup, the atmosphere was filled with the euphoria of excitement. The wait was finally over, almost 6 months after the first season hit YouTube, The Men’s club, season 2 is set to launch.

In anticipation, a private screening was held at the IMAX Filmhouse cinema, Lekki. In attendance were the cast, crew and industry supporters. A little waiting room held a re-enacted set from the show’s opening montage, signature cocktails, mock tails  and delicious canapés were served. The Crème-de-la Crème of Lagos entertainment elites including Kemi Adetiba, Noble Igwe, Eku Edewor, Ashionye Raccah, Bola Atta and guests mingled and re-lived their favourite scenes from Season 1 through pictures and interviews.

At 7:30 pm, all guests were ushered into the main screening hall by the Creative Director of REDTV, Obinna Okerekeocha, intimating fans and guests present that the new Season was about to bring on a different dimension. ‘REDTV has taken drama to a different level and we aren’t scared to push the boundaries. Our vision at REDTV is to continually produce premium content for entertainment. The new season of The Men’s Club is real. Its aspirational and relatable. The cinematography and scores are top class and its wonderful to see how the lead actors have grown. This is going to be a bigger hit than Season one’ said Okerekeocha. He reminded everyone to spread the message and invite friends to subscribe on the REDTV.

As end credits from the show reeled on the screen, the room was filled with a resounding applause. In a thank you address, Bola Atta the Executive Producer expressed her uttermost joy as the show more than surpassed expectations. She thanked the United Bank for Africa(UBA) for the endless support to ensure the success of REDTV and congratulated Tola Odunsi and Akins Akinkugbe, co-producers of the The Men’s Club.

The curtains drew with a final address from Tola Odunsi and Akins ‘AK’ Akinkugbe returning immense gratitude to every single actor and crew behind the scene reminding guests that ‘it’s easy to see the finished show but every single person who contributes to the show makes the job worthwhile’.

The Men’s Club starring Daniel Etim Effiong, Ayo Ayoola, Efa Iwara, Baaja Adebule, Mimi Chaka, Sharon Ooja, Segilola Ogidan, Enado Odigie. This season hosts some new faces including Shawn Faqua, Ijeoma Aniebo, Somto Akanegbu as we follow the lives of 4 young men in Lagos, discovering love, breaking hearts and trying to find meaning to life through their daily experiences and encounters.

The new season drops on YouTube this Thursday 23rd, May on the REDTV channel.

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