Visibility, Exposure, and Development; How Rwandamart is paving the way for businesses in Rwanda to succeed!
Jack Ndahiro and Rene Ishimwe embraced their passion for fashion and created Kigali Kaftan, a Rwanda-based clothing store, in 2021. Their biggest challenge was visibility. Thanks to RwandaMart, these entrepreneurs gained a practical understanding of e-commerce and increased sales by up to 40%.
Jack Ndahiro and Rene Ishimwe founded Kigali Kaftan. It was created so that men in Rwanda would have a touch of class with clothes designed to portray their uniqueness of elegance. Influenced by Rwandan royalty, such as Gihanga, Ruganzu, and Rwubusisi, the point of this store is to allow customers to feel like royalty while elevating their fashion style.
Kaftan is a type of fabric adopted by West African countries. The inspiration for this business came from the elegant and classy style they noticed in the various west African countries they visited, such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. They saw how smart these men looked in African attire, not in a suit and tie, but a fusion of different cultures. Jack and Rene decided to add the East African touch, which is how Kigali Kaftan was conceived.
“Our goal was to see how best we could match West and East African fashion; we are not only made in Rwanda but made in Africa! We wanted to create something that would add value to how men wear their outfits. We not only wanted to create something that went beyond made in Rwanda but Made in Africa, Afro-fusion, and different attire in Africa not specific to Made in Rwanda.” Jack Ndahiro, co-founder.
Challenges were faced when Kigali Kaftan was starting, such as finding suitable fabrics to execute the design, but no challenge was more significant than visibility. Initially, this company needed help finding ways to get people to know about their business and distribution.
Earlier this year, Jack got in touch with the team from Rwandamart, Rwanda’s new inclusive e-commerce platform, to promote Made in Rwanda products and services by Rwandan entrepreneurs. This e-commerce platform provided Kigali Kaftan with the necessary visibility and much more. These entrepreneurs were also exposed to the E-commerce Boosting Program, an initiative by GIZ. This initiative involved a series of practical and technical training to prepare Rwandan SMEs to list their products and services on RwandaMart.
The trainings received gave the team the right approach to pricing, business strategies to satisfy the online market, and tactics to sell on multiple channels.
Kigali Kaftan now has eight full-time employees since the business began in September 2021.
Value of Exposure.
“Joining RwandaMart positively impacted our sales by creating visibility, letting us know our target audiences, and exposing us to the market. Also, with the opportunity to attend different events. We had a good partnership where we had a booth at the CHOGM event and saw incredible sales. The more clients we get, the more ambassadors. We used what we learned from the training program to grow.” said Rene, co-founder.
Kigali Kaftan wants to contribute to Rwanda’s vision of being an export-based economy. To achieve this, the team plans a production line that manufactures custom-made fabrics for customers within and outside Rwanda. Within five years, Kigali Kaftan hopes to expand to over 100 employees managing all operations from sales and marketing, logistics, people-moving parts, and a leadership team.
Their hope for Kigali Kaftan is to see it grow not only in Africa but also globally, the way Afrobeats has been embraced. If music can be internationally welcomed, why not fashion, and why not Kigali Kaftan?