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Reference no. 1-14-006
Published by:
The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT (2014)
1 December 2014
13 pages
Data source:
Field research
Aminata Kane was born in Paris but brought up in Senegal. Her goal after graduate school at MIT was to create a business in Africa that would design and sell affordable, fashionable, and climate-appropriate clothing for Africa’s professional and office workers. An additional goal was to improve the lives of West African tailors. Her company, Fula&Style, would sell kits of pre-assembled, 80%-sewn apparel to be completed by local tailors in order to get a perfect fit. Materials would be sourced locally and from nearby countries as much as possible. Finding tailors to complete the apparel turned out to be the most difficult problem. Using local, self-employed tailors required substantial waiting time and frequent trips to their shops; however, these tailors wanted to be independent and not work for a business with regular work hours and a boss. One future possibility was to recruit young people and train them in the tailoring skills needed. The case shows the necessity for flexibility, making a plan and updating it frequently, having a strong mentor, being 'on the ground,' knowing one’s market, and possessing a great amount of persistence and determination. Illustrates opportunities in non-traditional business lines. People will pay for things they value; entrepreneurs need to understand what their clients value. This case is part of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology free case collection (visit for more information on the collection).
Learning objectives:
1. Highlights the perseverance of a young entrepreneur who has strived for a number of years to develop a venture in a field that has much personal relevance. 2. Despite familiarity with the country of a new enterprise, it’s not possible to anticipate all the difficulties and cultural misunderstandings that can arise. A misfit between assumptions and actual conditions can occur in the least anticipated areas. 3. Points out the value of having a strong and committed mentor to help with decision-making and to guide the entrepreneur at various stages of the enterprise. 4. Suggests that entering competitions from the beginning - even with an incomplete plan - can be a great source of feedback. 5. Stresses the need for entrepreneurs in low-income countries to keep in mind that what they are doing is for the continent or country, not solely for the individual customers.
Fashion, 2012-2013, 3 employees
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