AKOJO MARKET is the leading UK platform selling handmade accessories, jewellery, homeware and fashion from independent African designers. We carefully select talented designers and brands who promote local culture and artisan craftsmanship, and are committed to a sustainable and transparent way of working. Find curated content on AKOJO COMMUNITY, including style inspiration and guidance on ethics and sustainability in retail, particularly when operating in emerging markets and informal economies. Welcome to our journey of discovery and responsible consumption, using our purchasing power for positive change.
A MARKETPLACE TO DISCOVER, SHOP AND ENGAGE
WHO WE ARE
We champion small, independent businesses. Our designers not only meet our criteria for ethical sourcing and manufacturing, but they go above and beyond to provide skills training and employment opportunities for their workforce and artisans as well as engaging in philanthropic and social impact projects locally in Africa. AKOJO MARKET is a place to explore emerging brands which draw on centuries of traditions and techniques to thoughtfully produce quality products and work with cutting edge artists and innovators.
ETHOS: SUSTAINABILITY, ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY
AKOJO MARKET places transparency at the core of all our work. Together with our designers and brands, we embrace heritage and culture, local materials and skilled work, instead of fast fashion and cheap labour. AKOJO MARKET reinvests profits into supporting designers and marketing their brand and products.
Our designers have different strengths and pioneering practices when it comes to sustainability – from using up-cycled or repurposed fabrics and metals including brass, organic cotton, natural dyes, recycled packaging and monitoring water usage, to giving profits back to local community projects. All leather products used are byproducts only and no product is tested on animals
AKOJO MARKET has unique due diligence and investigative in-house capabilities. Our comprehensive checks verify who is making the goods, the conditions they are made in and that artisans and employees are being paid fairly. We offer support to brands that disclose any issues in the value chain, and encourage total transparency. We are here to help our designers and brands improve compliance and operational processes.
We connect our designers to an international market. Products ordered through AKOJO MARKET are sent directly from designer to the customer, ensuring reduced carbon footprint and simpler logistics. Our model keeps our overheads low and guarantees that the makers of each product receive the vast majority of income generated from sales. This provides financial security and sustainable growth. It also allows us to regularly communicate with brands over any logistical and ethical challenges, giving them the tools to grow, rather than engage in a “one-time” transaction, buying wholesale.
AKOJO MARKET measures its impacts across all of its brands and countries of operation. An annual impacts report will be published in 2020. We have 30 brands, with collectively 600 artisans, who in turn have approximately 5.5 dependents, totalling 3,300 individuals impacted. In addition, many of our brands support philanthropic and community-based projects in parts of Africa, with beneficiaries exceeding 3,000 individuals.
Total lives impacted
individuals impacted through philanthropic community-based projects.
individuals impacted by the artisans.
artisans in their workforce.
AKOJO MARKET was founded by Annie Rudnick and Natasha Buchler in 2019
Annie, whose family is from Zimbabwe, has a background in contemporary art, curating, marketing and communications. She worked at Hauser & Wirth Gallery in London, New York, LA and Somerset, before consulting on fine art and design projects internationally.
Natasha has worked as a business consultant in Africa for multinationals, financial institutions, investors and not-for-profit organisations. She has advised companies on third party due diligence, supply chain risk and how to engage in legitimate, ethical business partnerships.
BOARD OF ADVISORS
LVMH Digital Innovation
Theresa Austin is a technology and digital strategist, with close to 20 years of ecommerce and omni-channel experience in the luxury fashion and beauty sector. Having worked at both executive and execution level delivering multi-million pound projects for industry-leading companies such as Burberry and Net-A-Porter, Theresa now holds a research role at LVMH, focussing on exploring customer needs and supporting the creation of humanistic technology experiences.
“I think that truthfulness and authenticity in supply chain is the biggest challenge facing customers and the transformation of this industry as a whole. So I am particularly pleased to be working with AKOJO as they have such strong expertise and authority on what qualifies as sustainable, ethical or good in both a supply chain and business sense.”
Global in her outlook and originally from South Africa, Theresa studied Graphic Design at Ruth Prowse, Business at Columbia University, and lived for many years in London. She now resides in Paris.
Veronica Bolton Smith
COO, Invest Africa
Veronica holds a solid background of 15 years working on trade and development opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Previous positions include working on commercial and public-sector projects, both in the UK and Africa; Veronica has an intimate knowledge of the trade and investment landscape across the continent, and is passionate about boosting development and economic growth in a sustainable manner through Africa’s enormous potential particularly in off-grid solar power.
Veronica has a thorough grasp of the political and economic environments of the numerous Sub-Saharan nations she has worked within, having previously worked in the House of Commons, House of Lords, Department for International Development, Ministry of Defence, Kenya, Africa Matters and most recently Invest Africa. Veronica was recently recognised in the global top 100 businesspeople by the United Nations initiative – ‘Most Influential Person of African Descent’. Veronica currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at Invest Africa, a leading pan-African business platform that promotes trade and investment in Africa.
CEO, Andrew Martin International
Mike has over 25 years experience across Marketing, Digital, Sales, Commercial and Logistics functions. With blue chip experience in Mail Order, Financial Services and more latterly serving as a Sales & Marketing Director of Vodafone UK and Omni Channel Director of B&Q and Kingfisher Group.
For the past 3 years and currently, Mike is CEO of Andrew Martin International, an interior design and home furnishings company that design, manufacture and retail a wide range of home furnishing products in the Interior Design market.
51 North Partners
Nina is a co-founder and Executive Director of Conduit Capital, an umbrella entity of discretionary funds from early stage investments to larger growth stage investment opportunities.
In addition, she is also a Managing Director of 51North Partners, a Financial Consultancy focused on establishing and enhancing the relationships between investors and companies, by identifying investors to source strategic funding, providing strategic advice on their financial and commercial structures and managing their investor relations
Nina has 17 years of relevant experience and its skilled in the conceptualising of innovative financial solutions for a diverse client base with a focus on sustainable and impact focused investments.