Throughout the year I have been privileged to experience, work with and test some amazing Congolese products and services and if you’re not in on the bubbling start-up scene yet, you’ve got to get on it real quick. It’s encouraging and inspiring for me to see young entrepreneurs like myself willing to reshape not only their own lives but bring their contribution to building and changing the Congolese story for the better.
I would like to share 7 Kickass Congolese brands I believe you should get to know in 2018 and look forward to your thoughts on my list and possibly any other that I could look up; I do intend to make this a annual subject. Here we go! (In no particular order…)
Emart.cd is an online grocery store based in Kinshasa, DRC. Whilst the e-commerce industry is booming in the country, Emart.cd’s unique approach is their mission to empower local farmers and cooperatives by working directly with them to source fresh produce and also pass on the savings to their consumers as their pricing rivals those of the traditional supermarkets. Emart.cd was awarded the Orange DRC 2017 Social Entrepreneur prize and are set for an even bigger 2018, having recently released their mobile app and increased payment options to allow the Congolese diaspora to buy groceries for their loved ones hassle free and enjoy free shipping.
2. MALENGI’S JEWELRY
Ethnic fashion is the rage right now and Malengi’s Jewelry is simply refreshingly cool. I fell in love with their cuffs (see picture) and that’s not the rest of it. their entire catalogue not only celebrates African femininity in a way that I’ve seen very few local brands do, but their pieces are unique and yet versatile taking you from that African Goddess feel to rock chick’s night on the town. Malengi’s Jewelry works with artisans from whole over the world whilst committed to promoting Congolese artisans in their collections. Thank me later.
Baziks pride themselves to be the 1st mobile application platform dedicated to Congolese music. The music streaming service, currently available on Google Play offers a wide variety of genres from Hip Hop/Rnb, Ndombolo, Rumba, Gospel and Afro pop. Apart from being that Congolese music hookup in your pocket, what I love about Baziks is their unique position to offer a platform to up in coming artists to gain access to an audience beyond their geographic barriers.
4. NEEMA FOOD
Dynamite truly comes in small packages and the UK-based Congolese brand Neema Food’s chilli sauces will not disappoint. I suggest ordering their gift set for a journey through authentic African spicy flavors; from the green bullet chilli sauce to their scotch bonnet ginger sauce and the classical scotch bonnet chilli sauce. To be enjoyed as is or added to your favorite dish for a little flavorsome kick! They ship globally and these babies make for great year-end favors.
5. FINA LINGA
At the centre of the Fina Linga brand is this palpable desire to share their knowledge about beauty and celebrate the African woman in all her diversity. This South Africa based Congolese brand founded in 2012 has grown from cosmetics to skincare and hair products whilst maintaining their community-based approach in their communication with consumers with regular fresh content on their blog, sharing tips and tricks that will have you feeling like a guru yourself.
As they say it, “there are no shortcuts in beauty. A consistent routine and coupled with healthy habits will always pay off”.
6. LE CHOIX DE NADINE
I stumbled upon Le Choix de Nadine products a little over a year ago at the Kinshasa airport and this love story is not about to end any time soon. They offer a range of jams, honey, chilli sauces, sirups and more; all made from local ingredients. To believe that the founder is a trained photographer, one can’t help than be happy she followed her passion for cuisine. If you ever visit Kinshasa, do yourself a favor and grab one of those gems, and would you look at the packaging?
MaxiCash is a mobile application which helps African expats globally to support their loved ones back home financially. MaxiCash links to various service providers such as schools, hospitals, mobile operators or banks; and what started as a peer to peer payment service has now grown to become a payment gateway to enable online merchants in the DRC to receive payments from consumers across the globe.