Last year marked the 400th anniversary of the start of the slave trade in West Africa and was also known as the “Year of Return” to Ghana, calling the survivors of the descendants to return home, Afrochella is a celebration of Africa’s diverse culture and vibrant work of African creatives and entrepreneurs. The festival is designed to elevate and highlight the exciting and thriving millennial talent in Africa by introducing an interactive event that teaches, explains and explores culture with a pioneering approach, which ultimately brought over 10,000 attendees to Ghana. Now in its, fourth year, Afrochella has contributed to boosting Ghana’s economy, which brought in 1.9 billion in 2019 alone.
I am so grateful for the team at Afrochella because they expanded my mind in what was possible for global Blackness. They challenged me to reconsider the definition of status quo about the space I take up in this world as a Black woman — and if you’re wondering: we are the status quo, everywhere we go.Tiffany Bender, Head of Content for Afrochella
In addition to the one-day festival, the Afrochella brand offers conversation series dedicated to discussions on African business, music, food, and the creative industry. The focus of the talks is to provoke a shift in how Africa and the African Diaspora can capitalize on the many facets of each sector. The festival also prioritizes charity and volunteerism in Accra, Ghana communities through providing over 500 meals as well as renovating an orphanage school in Jamestown. The Afro-Food Truck meals were distributed in low incomes neighborhoods, Nima, Opeibia, and Shiashe. Afrochella community partners, Twitter and Airbnb, contributed to the Genesis Orphanage school’s renovation and provided 140 backpacks with school supplies for students.Today In: ForbesWomen
I joined the Afrochella family in 2017 as the face of Festival and have seen it grow into greatness. Our entire team works so hard each year, but the women of Afrochella are the powerhouses. As Head of Charity, I worked with my team to bring our community initiatives up to nearly 400% in fundraising since within the last year. It brings me joy to see the lives we’ve impacted outside the festival grounds. Seeing our audience grow from 8,000 to 30,000 is proof that we are changing the narrative of African culture. Afrochella to the world. Gifty Boakye, Head of Charity for Afrochella
I’ve been with Afrochella from the beginning as one of the few women leading the platform to over 30,000 attendees. As the festival’s lead in talent, it has been one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences for me. The most rewarding part of my job is being a part of a team that trusts and supports me in producing the talent for the festival. Not only are we creating a celebration, but we are also creating a space to share our rich African stories and have the world discover Africa’s talent in the process.Khadijat El Alawa, Talent Manager for Afrochella
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Forbes recently spoke with the women behind Afrochella; Gifty Boakye, Head of Charity, Tiffany Bender, Head of Content, Nadu Placca, Event Director, Khadijat El Alawa, Talent Manager and Louise Darko, Social Media Lead about the importance of the festival, Afrochella’s charity initiatives and how it has positively contributed to Ghana’s economy.
Dominique Fluker: Share the concept of Afrochella. What inspired your team to create a vibrant celebration of Africa’s diverse culture while also highlighting millennial creatives and entrepreneurs?
Gifty Boakye: The inspiration behind Afrochella was a need for creatives in the Diaspora to have access to a platform where they can freely showcase the talent that not only represents the many different cultures around the world but the new age of creatives are brewing on the continent. We created a stage for unseen talent on the continent and in the Diaspora.
Fluker: Although the Afrochella festival got its start in 2017, 2019 was a standout year for the festival, as it was Ghana’s “Year of Return.” Share why the “Year of Return” was culturally significant to the festival and the people of Ghana.
Boakye: The “Year of Return” for Afrochella and local Ghanaians were significant in giving us the opportunity to show the world what they have been missing when it comes to Ghanaian culture. Our mission was to invite people to the continent to go back home. Afrochella used our four pillars, the celebration of music, food, culture, and fashion as an invitation to our brothers and sisters to join us and emerge into Ghanaian and African heritage. In 2019 Ghana’s “Year of Return” meant highlighting the process of various African cultures transcending across borders without losing its heritage. Food, music, and art was celebrated, expressed, and explored through the many dimensions at Afrochella.
Fluker: Highlight your overall experience helping build the festival so far.
Boakye: As Head of Charity for the festival, I was at the forefront of seeing the impact we made in different communities in Accra. Leading 150 plus volunteers into some of the most remote areas in Accra and witnessing how eager people were to help and give back was a proud feeling. During Afrochella Feeds, I caught myself looking around like, “Wow we’re really doing this, these families we’re feeding, children were singing and dancing with will never forget this, it feels good.” As a lead woman on the team, I’m just proud to be a part of a group so dedicated to changing the narrative on the continent, from our founders to staff on the day of the event, we all work really hard. Look out for Road to Afrochella, some exciting Activations and developments in different countries are taking place throughout 2020, all leading to the main event in December. Afrochella to the world.
Fluker: Share the benefits that Afrochella has brought to Ghana and Ghanaians over the years. Has this festival positively impacted their economy?
Boakye: In 2019, Afrochella created 700 jobs for locals and the Diaspora worldwide, and provided a network for economic growth in the city of Accra. Our production team alone brought on 150 new members to ensure our 2019 production and events surrounding the festival such as, Royalty night, PVO New Years’ party was a success. This year we brought on board “The Zoo,” an event management company led by one of Afrochellas superwomen, Nadu Placca. The team ensured we were prepared for the main event in hiring and managing all staff on the day of the main event. Locally the economy benefits by the increase of tourists that come in, making sure to visit local markets and vendors such as Makola, one of Accra’s largest markets. In 2019 “The year of Return” pumped $1.9 billion into Ghana’s economy.
Fluker: How is the Afrochella different from other mainstream global conferences and festivals? Speak about the importance of the conversation series, Afrochella Talks.
Boakye: In the last 3 years we’ve worked hard to make sure Afrochella is more than a concert on the continent. Our mission is to create an experience leaving people to want more knowledge and experience in Ghana. In 2019 we kicked off our Afrochella Talks, a conversation series focused on West Africa dedicating discussions on African business, music, food, and the creative industries. The key focus of the talks is to provoke a shift in how Africa and the African Diaspora can capitalize on the many facets of each sector.
Fluker: How has the Afrochella festival sheds light on Ghana’s economy, creatives, and entrepreneurs? Share why Ghana and the country as a whole needs more positive representation regarding business and entrepreneurship.
Boakye: I believe Ghana is a goldmine when it comes to opportunity in business and entrepreneurship. We aim to be a vessel for African Millennials to invest in their heritage and native culture. The Afrochella Talks is one of the many ways Afrochella uses community to ensure educational support for Ghanaians and Africans at large. In addition to us creating jobs surrounding the festival, we are encouraging more jobs to be built in various sectors in Ghana.
Fluker: The Afrochella community also gives back to Ghana. Speak about the multiple charity initiatives and over 26,000 dollars that Afrochella has spearheaded.
Boakye: From our inaugural event in 2017 to date, we have raised $26,000 for our charity initiatives, each year growing. In 2019 I created Afrochella’s Reads and Feeds campaign initiative to support Ghana’s underdeveloped communities. The campaign received over $10,000 in funding with sponsorships from Airbnb and Twitter. Through the reads and feeds, initiative over 100 volunteers contributed to the distribution of 500 meals in Ghana’s Greater Accra area, as well as the renovation of the GENESIS orphanage school in Jamestown.
The objective of Afrochella Reads was to foster the importance of education within the local communities in Accra, highlighting “Quality Education” Number 4 on Ghana’s 17 Sustainable Developments goals in 2019. The Afrochella Feeds initiative was a plan to distribute 500 meals around the most impoverished areas in Accra. Our goal for Afrochella Feeds was to bring awareness to hunger in Ghana using the social influence and platform of Afrochella to aid to “Zero Hunger” number two of Ghana’s 17 sustainable development goals released by the UN of Ghana in 2019. Afrochella raised $10,500 in their efforts to implement both charity initiatives and were joined by 150 volunteers.