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Changing the Face of Ghanaian Fashion

Kofi Ansah was a renowned fashion designer who helped to change the face of the Ghanaian fashion scene. In our interview, conducted earlier this year, the late Ansah told Business in Africa Pays how he set up business in Ghana over 20 years ago.

UPDATE – The Business in Africa Pays team would like to extend our sincerest sympathies to Kofi’s friends and family. The sad news of Mr Ansah’s death broke on the morning of Saturday, May 3rd 2014 and we have all been in shock ever since. He was one of the most entertaining and inspirational people we have had the privilege of meeting. We hope the trail he blazed across the world will light the way others who want to do the same. RIP Kofi Ansah.

“I was a pioneer, so I was the one doing the mentoring,” explains Kofi Ansah, in response to a question on the mentors he looked to as he started his Artdress business. Indeed, it was through his research of the infrastructure of the textile industry in his native Ghana, having decided to move back home, that he realised the scale of the task ahead of him.

“Having been born in Ghana originally, it was more of a desire to return home than a business decision,” he said. “However, my research taught me that my area of professional endeavour did not exist. Philosophically, I had to look for the silver lining in the dark clouds. In the absence of an existing infrastructure to tap into, it was therefore a conscious decision to be a pioneer, and set up a clothing textile industry in Ghana.”

It was a decision of some ambition, and one that would bring forth several significant logistical considerations. Married to an English wife and with two children going to English schools, Ansah made the decision to return to Ghana from London in 1990, and spent two years carrying out logistical research in preparation for the move. “The initial idea came to me in 1990 but I eventually moved to Ghana in 1992. For the two years between making that decision and activation of purpose, I had to come to Ghana several times primarily to secure accommodation and good schools for my children.”

Then there was the application of his business in a new territory; adapting to the fundamental differences in business philosophy and infrastructure in Western and less developed regions. “One usually arrives with a certain idea but after consideration of the social, psychological and cultural peculiarities of the new territory one wants to operate in, it is necessary to change or to adapt one’s business model to suit,” explained Ansah.

Click here to read part two.