HERITΛGE celebrated African Heritage Day on May 5th by taking part in an online webinar organized by the Women in Africa Initiative (WIA). WIA is the leading international platform for the economic development and support of African women entrepreneurs and, accordingly, the topic under discussion was whether preserving a country’s heritage assets can serve as the basis for building a successful business.
Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis, HERITΛGE Director, and the organization’s Head of Africa Programmes, Mina Morou, both contributed to the webinar which was moderated by Oluwatoyin Adegbite-Moore, Founder & CEO of Nigeria’s SHEAFAM & TAM, a consulting business, and Executive Vice-President for Africa & Europe, for financial services company REACH HQ.
They were joined on the panel by Harriet Ng’Ok, Founder of Harriet’s Botanicals and HERITΛGE alumna, and Zaahirah Muthy, Founder OF ZeeArts Gallery, philanthropist, artist activist, and WIA Ambassador.
Adegbite-Moore kicked off the discussion by asking whether heritage can help business and how can business help heritage.
“In many ways, heritage consists of unique content, of privileged knowledge for local communities anywhere. And this privileged knowledge can become a unique selling point for business and can help business branding, business quality, etc. while at the same time, business with its products and services can actually really strengthen these heritage values and empower them,” said Dr. Kyriakidis.
Ng’Ok founded Harriet’s Botanicals, an African-sourced wellness products company, after being helped herself by her community’s traditional medicine that uses locally-found plants. She joined the discussion from Kenya.
“My idea was to bring cultural practitioners together and formalize their trade… we have grown in leaps and bounds. We now have a factory and manufacture up to 500 bottles on any given day … We are the beginning of African medicine featuring on a global platform just like other cultures, like the Chinese and the Ayurvedic are,” Ng’Ok said.
“The reason I named our first product Arorwet and maintained the name of this tree is that people in the village would begin to understand the value of the traditional indigenous trees and not cut them for firewood or for sale and would start instead to regrow them on their farms,” she added.
Below you can find out more and watch the webinar which was on the day attended by around 1000 people on the day.
ABOUT AFRICAN WORLD HERITAGE DAY: Proclaimed by UNESCO in 2015, African World Heritage Day (5 May) is an opportunity for people around the world, particularly Africans, to celebrate the Continent’s unique cultural and natural heritage. While Africa is underrepresented on the World Heritage List (African properties account for some 12% of all inscribed sites worldwide), a disproportionally high percentage (39%) of these properties are on the World Heritage List in Danger. It is therefore more urgent than ever that this irreplaceable heritage be protected and preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.
HERITΛGE is currently working to untap the potential of heritage in Africa through its Heritage Management Project – Africa (HerMaP-Africa) program which is funded by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program and through its HerMaP Gambia program which is co-funded by the European Union.