Leila Kigha, a Cameroonian entrepreneur on a mission to help women build legacy brands — Lionesses of Africa

Tell us a little about your team

Our brand is organized and run by a small team we call the fantastic four. 
We have all known each other for many years now and each bring unique skills into the business that will provide valuable insights and success in the future. However, some tasks like accounting, taxes, marketing etc. are outsourced to professional agencies on a need to basis.

The Chief Executive Officer comes in with her experience in setting up and establishing media establishments and building teams. She is in charge of making major decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of the company.

The Administrative Assistant/ office manager, is a hardworking and creative individual who is responsible for inventory management, advertising, marketing, and managing cashier and sales staff, as well as day-to-day operations within the company. She oversees the company’s business operations. 

The Chief Product Officer / Project Manager is a strategic leader, visionary, team supervisor, and the main advocate of our organization’s products and services. She is in charge of initiatives across the entire product lifecycle — from customer discovery and user research to development and delivery. She comes in with her young, innovative, fresh perspective and experience of the fashion industry. 

The Legal Adviser is there to ensure we never go astray. Ensuring we do everything by the books and recommending what processes to engage in and when to avoid legal issues in the future – from labor contracts to intellectual property, to work permits, to trade laws, tax laws etc., we are kept abreast on the changes and requirements.

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

I started my entrepreneurial journey as a passionate amateur fashion accessory designer while I was working as a tv, and radio journalist (trained journalist) and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing! All I knew was that I wanted to have a side hustle because I couldn’t make ends meet with my job alone. When I finally left my job in 2010 after I got very sick from the stress and overwhelm at my workplace, cancelled my visa to the UK, my side hustle was all I had because I left my job without a plan. (Don’t do this!) 

I made clothing and accessories for my sisters, eventually most of their friends and that’s how it grew. Back then refurbishing old shoes with African fabrics was becoming popular all over Africa. I experimented with local manufacturers and designers and refurbished shoes and bags for many clients but there was one recurring issue; they didn’t last long because of the quality. Fueled by the desire to serve quality products, I embarked on research on how to manufacture my shoes. With the help of my very good friend, I got quotes from manufacturers and we came up with a business and financial plan. Guess what? I didn’t have that kind of money (over $5000). I was at crossroads … Again! I knew I had to work to grow this from a side hustle to a business, so I got small freelance writing jobs, and this is how I discovered and fell in love with branding and design. It has always been my dream to empower women to embrace their unique gifts and show up confidently, but I didn’t know how I could do this effectively. I come from a lineage of women who empower others.

I was contacted by a dear friend to write an article for her Ghana-based magazine of the top 50 women in my country. With my background in journalism, I already knew quite a several women I could write about but when I began researching, I found nothing about them on the internet.  In disappointment, I came back to my friend with just a few and told her it is so unbelievable that such women with potential and track records have no information on a lie and she told me, and I quote “personal branding in this country is non-existent”

Those words hit me like a fresh revelation from the heart of the Father! 
Before that moment, I had never heard of Personal Branding. I Immediately went to Google and began searching. To cut it short – from 2014- 2016, I received training and mentorship from some of the top pioneering women in the profession. This is where the puzzle began coming together, my passion for shoes and the African print and my love for helping women. I knew these were the tools I needed to carry out my mission.

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