CBI's Market Intelligence: Bawa Hope

An interview with Andrew Mutsiya, head of Business Development for Bawa Hope, a Kenyan company specialized in jewels, fashion and lifestyle.

Bawa Hope is a Kenyan fair-trade company that works with marginalized handicraft artisans who produce jewelry, fashion and lifestyle accessories. As head of business development, it is my responsibility to help our artisans gain access to global markets.

We have been able to attract big buyers like Noonday Collection (USA), House of Fairtrade (Sweden) and VIVO Activewear (Kenya). But to be successful, we had to be flexible, and we had to invest a lot of our time and money. Before entering European and American markets you have to run tests on your products and materials to get them certified. And we had to do a lot of research into which designs and products would be in demand in each market. After investing all that time and money and energy to get international clients, you have to be flexible again, to cater to their specific needs. For instance, one of our American buyers would only do orders of 1.000 pieces or more, so we had to get our company ready for mass production.But the effort is worth it.

How did CBI help you?

Before going to our first international trade fair we studied the tools CBI provides on their website. It has great market information reports for nearly every country. It taught us a lot about different styles in different markets, about customer journeys, about how to do your pricing, about who pays for shipping costs, et cetera. For example: we want to reach upper middle class customers and the CBI market research tools were very valuable for that goal. They helped us to determine our price points, so as not to overprice, but also not to be too cheap.

Advice for fellow entrepreneurs
  • Check the CBI website, take in those tools and implement them. Before we just did abracadabra pricing, but they have templates that are very helpful. They have info that are practical, you wouldn’t get them in business school. That is your first stop.
  • Be patient. It’s not an instant coffee thing. Sit down, learn and plan.
  • Every country is different. Some countries like subtler colors, other flashier styles. You have to realize that even if your product is great, it needs to go the right market.
Bawa Hope in action  

CBI also filmed an interview with Bawa Hope at MAISON&OBJET in Paris. Check out the video here.


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