57 Chocolate Ghana

Create a new narrative

Create a new narrative

The Berlin based startup Manuyoo has set itself the goal of contributing its part to solve on of the main problems of Africa: a lack of value creation has led to a dependency on trade in unprocessed raw materials. Therefore, Manuyoo offers businesses from our neighboring continent the opportunity to sell their goods in Germany.

17.01.2021

The label Made in China is part of our everyday life – products Made in Bangladesh or Made in India are widespread as well. But what about Made in Ghana or Made in Kenya? With the slogan “Trade Not Aid”, Manuyoo – a Berlin based startup has set itself the goal of enabling individual companies from as many African countries as possible to offer their goods „Made in Africa“ ​​to the German market.
Manuyoo Team
The founders and current employees of Manuyoo © Alexandra Ngandeu

Trade with Africa

In 2018, the volume of trade between Germany and all African countries combined was only 45 billion euros.1 That doesn’t sound like a small amount at first, but if you were to look at Africa as a country, the overall balance would still only be in 15th place compared to other nations, behind Russia and Hungary. Almost half of this trade volume was in turn accounted for by the relatively industrialized emerging market South Africa2 – a country which, due to its history, can hardly be compared with the rest of the continent.
One of the causes and the main problem of this lies in the hardly any value creation on the continent. Since its violent integration in the global economy by the European colonial powers, little has changed in this regard.3 Over 65 percent of exports from Africa are unprocessed food and raw materials.4 The most important export goods of the Greater West Africa region, for example, are cocoa, cashews and cotton with a share of over 50 percent of total exports.5 Mineral resources such as gold, crude oil and diamonds also play an important role in many African economies. The “resource curse” is often used as explanation here, as the extraction of raw materials creates only a few jobs, promotes distribution conflicts and can lead to inflation, which in turn has a negative effect on the export production of other economic sectors.3

Trade with Africa

In 2018, the volume of trade between Germany and all African countries combined was only 45 billion euros.1 That doesn’t sound like a small amount at first, but if you were to look at Africa as a country, the overall balance would still only be in 15th place compared to other nations, behind Russia and Hungary. Almost half of this trade volume was in turn accounted for by the relatively industrialized emerging market South Africa2 – a country which, due to its history, can hardly be compared with the rest of the continent.

One of the causes and the main problem of this lies in the hardly any value creation on the continent. Since its violent integration in the global economy by the European colonial powers, little has changed in this regard.3 Over 65 percent of exports from Africa are unprocessed food and raw materials.4 The most important export goods of the Greater West Africa region, for example, are cocoa, cashews and cotton with a share of over 50 percent of total exports.5 Mineral resources such as gold, crude oil and diamonds also play an important role in many African economies. The “resource curse” is often used as explanation here, as the extraction of raw materials creates only a few jobs, promotes distribution conflicts and can lead to inflation, which in turn has a negative effect on the export production of other economic sectors.3

The idea behind Manuyoo

The startup is just getting started: By November 2020, it had collected the necessary start-up capital through a crowdfunding campaign and thus built up its web shop, which has been online since mid-December. According to the co-founder of the company Alexandra Ngandeu, with whom we spoke for this article, it only took a year from the idea until then – “if you want to achieve something, you can get it!“ Alexandra, who has Cameroonian roots, was born in Paris and studied in Germany, feels connected to the continent because of her own history and says about her motivation: “I wanted to change the world once, but in the end I saw that I can’t change the world that quickly, then went to work normally and yes that won’t let you go and at some point you think ok, now I have to do something!“

The approach Trade Not Aid is intended to complement existing concepts. With regard to classic development aid Alexandra emphasizes: “If we want our neighbor to feel good, then we should look at him as an equal and not just help and say: Here you have money, this is it what you can do with that.“

Manuyoo is a pioneer in Germany with his idea. In doing so, it deliberately distinguishes itself from established concepts such as fair trade or world shops. “You shouldn’t buy a product to help someone. You should buy a product because you like it. And if there is also the fact that you ‘help’ someone because it secures jobs, then we have achieved our goal.” Manuyoo’s aim is to convey and establish new images of Africa. “We just want to focus on the quality of the products, on new flavors that people don’t yet know and sometimes show that the people who have this chocolate factory actually work just like someone who has a chocolate factory here, and that is the main idea behind it.” Alexandra is alluding to 57 Chocolate, one of Manuyoo’s partner companies, which produces chocolate Made in Ghana and thus has the potential to make an important contribution to value creation in the country. Ghana is the country with the second largest cocoa production in the world. Up to now, over 80 percent of the cocoa grown there has been processed abroad; only five percent of the added value in chocolate production remains on site.6
57 Chocolate Ghana
Chocolate Made in Ghana – Why not? © Alexandra Ngandeu
Alexandra sees Manuyoo as a platform that should enable small and medium-sized African companies to put their products in the foreground and at the same time tell the story behind the product, far from the typical African clichés. Manuyoo has also developed its own magazine for this purpose: “Here we want to explain to people where the product comes from – so that they can get an idea for themselves and so that we can really break with this image of Africa. We say there is much more than just hunger and war and everything that is so negative on this earth. There are actually people who have a company, have such as many employees, create jobs and just have cool products.“
Enda running shoes
Running shoes by the Kenyan company Enda – an alternative to Nike or Puma? © Alexandra Ngandeu

In addition to this aspect, one of Manuyoo’s tasks and challenges is to support the partners in complying with European import regulations and meeting quality standards. Alexandra: “There are or can be difficulties for companies. But we stand by their side and explain exactly what quality standards we want, and most of the time they actually do everything they can to achieve these quality standards.” These so-called non-tariff trade barriers that exist in the European Union amount to more than 2000 and have an upward trend, confronting companies from poorer African countries in particular with almost insoluble challenges if they want to export their products to the EU. And not because the qualitative requirements could not be achieved, but because the necessary knowledge about European directives is not available and so the bureaucratic hurdles can hardly be overcome.7

At the moment the offer in the web shop is still limited to a few products. Manuyoo has six partner companies from four different countries. From running shoes from Kenya to chocolate from Ghana to palm liqueur from Benin, the product range is already considerable and is to be expanded further in the near future. Pop-up stores are also being planned.4

If you want to know more about Manuyoo or its African partners, you can find out more here: https://www.manuyoo.world/

Sources

  1. Deutsche Welle: Afrika macht deutsche Firmen neugierig (31.08.2019), accessed at https://www.dw.com/de/afrika-macht-deutsche-firmen-neugierig/a-50229601. Last visited on 07.01.2021.
  2. Statistisches Bundesamt (Destatis): Außenhandel – Rangfolge der Handelspartner im Außenhandel der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (endgültige Ergebnisse) 2019 (05.11.2020), accessed at https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Wirtschaft/Aussenhandel/Tabellen/rangfolge-handelspartner.pdf?__blob=publicationFile. Last visited on 07.01.2021.
  3. Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: Rohstoffe für den Export (05.12.2005), accessed at https://www.bpb.de/internationales/afrika/afrika/58972/rohstoffe-fuer-den-export?p=all.
    Last visited on 07.01.2021.
  4. Business Spirit Platform: Berlin-based start-up brings upcoming African brands to the European market, accessed at https://business-spirit.org/news/berlin-based-start-up-brings-upcoming-african-brands-to-the-european-market. Last visited on 07.01.2021.
  5. Hapag-Lloyd: „Afrika ist immer noch ein Wachstumsmarkt“ – Interview mit der Vishal Bundhun, Area Westafrika (01.12.2020), accessed at https://www.hapag-lloyd.com/de/news-insights/insights/2020/12/–we-want-to-double-volumes—–interview-with-the-head-of-area-.html. Last visited on 07.01.2021.
  6. Wirtschaft in Afrika (Katja Scherer): Kakaoanbau in Ghana: Vom Rohstoff-Lieferanten zum Schokoladen-Hersteller (06.07.2020), accessed at https://wirtschaftinafrika.de/kakaoanbau-in-ghana/. Last visited on 08.01.2021.
  7. Spiegel Online: Entwicklungshilfeminister Gerd Müller will EU-Märkte für Afrika öffnen (08.08.2018), accessed at https://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/entwicklungshilfeminister-gerd-mueller-will-die-eu-maerkte-fuer-afrika-oeffnen-a-1222277.html. Last visited on 07.01.2021.

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