Female entrepreneur takes her Nigerian online fashion store to Africa’s top business lists

Ahead of World Women’s Day on March 8, we celebrate Africa’s women in business. Nigerian entrepreneur Honey Ogundeyi started Fashpa – an online shopping platform with one of the widest selections of fashionable clothes and accessories, just over a year ago. She was recently listed by Forbes among one of ten top emerging entrepreneurs in Africa for 2015.

LAGOS, NIGERIA (REUTERS) – Fashpa is an online retailer that stocks and sells affordable high street clothes, shoes and accessories for Nigeria’s fashion conscious women.

Nigeria is one of the top fashion destinations in Africa but access to what’s hot isn’t easy. In Lagos for example, a city of 21 million people, a shopping spree could take all day, owing to notorious traffic jams.

Fashpa has an active community of over 200,000 followers across various social media platforms including its website, which CEO and founder Honey Ogundenyi says reaches about 3 million people in Nigeria alone.

Ogundeyi, who has a background in management consulting worked with McKinsey and Company in Europe before returning to Nigeria to work with Ericsson and Google.

She was recently listed by Forbes among Africa’s top 10 emerging women entrepreneurs to watch in 2015.

“I started Fashpa.com really out of the frustration of not having access to the latest fashion and trends in one place in Nigeria, whether off-line or online. We started small, really in my bedroom and Its really been great to see the site since Its launch the growth has been phenomenal and which shows that other consumers in Nigeria as well are really looking for a place online where they could go, easily and conveniently access latest brands, have a wide variety of choice and have it delivered to their homes in as quickly as one to three days,” Ogundeyis says.

Sitting in the comfort of their homes and offices, customers can choose various local and international brands as well as Fashpa’s own growing label, for prices ranging from 2 to 200 US dollars.

“The quality is amazing, items are really genuine. I never have to worry about getting something else than what ordered for, so Fashpa is just a very unique retailer store, and I’m happy they are online,” Idongesit Essien, one of Fashpa’s customers.

Nigeria, a nation of over 160 million people has over 60 million internet users and an economy that was recently rebased to replace South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy.

Analysts estimate the online shopping industry here is worth about 1.8 billion US dollars annually, owing to the combination of a growing economy and an explosion in mobile and internet use.

Ogundeyi agrees – she says one of her biggest challenges is keeping up with demand, although many Nigerians are still struggling with the concept of online money transactions.

“One of our challenges has just being increasing the level of awareness of our site. Our biggest problem today is actually keeping up with demands, so, we are selling much faster than we can re-stock. And, just make people get to trust online shopping more. So a lot of people are not still used to online shopping, they are not used to paying online, so they still prefer to pay cash on delivery,” she said.

And while unbearable traffic means customers prefer to shop online, it does pose some challenges to delivery of what they purchase. Fashpa has clients across Nigeria.

“In terms of just logistically, how do you deliver to the whole Country as quickly as possible, so, we all know that the roads are not great, we don’t have a great transport network, but these are the challenges that we over come and we turn them into opportunities for the business,” she says.

The name “Fashpa” was coined from Nigeria’s colloquial term for a “Fashion Parade”. Ogundeyi says she hopes the name will become synonymous with African fashion around the world.

“In the next five years, we’ll see Fashpa.com as the leading online destination for fashion in Africa. And so, for us, we want to be the number one brand that people think about when they think about fashion in general,” she said.

The Fashpa brand has been worn by Kelly Rowland, US entrepreneur Angela Simmons and a host of other Nigerian celebrities.

For now, she is concentrating on the female fashion category with hopes of expanding soon.