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The Folklore Group Maps Out Plans for Beauty in Africa

Published June 2, 2024
Published June 2, 2024
The Folklore Group

The African beauty industry is thriving. However, it needs a home to continue this ongoing nourishment. The Folklore Group, founded by Amira Rasool in 2018 with a mission to revolutionize the supply of products for diverse suppliers in emerging markets, is a tech-enabled e-commerce marketplace that focuses on luxury African fashion and beauty, supporting multiple brands including Arami Essentials and Suki Suki Naturals. It serves as a bridge between homegrown high-end brands in Africa and the markets in the diaspora.

In April of 2022, the popular e-commerce platform raised a pre-seed funding of $1.7 million. After this raise, it pivoted from a DTC e-commerce platform to a B2B marketplace. In April 2024, it raised a $3.4 million seed funding round led by Benchstrength, which is headed by two ex-General Catalyst partners, Kenneth Chenault Jr. and John Monagle, with existing investors Slauson & Co, Techstars, and Black Tech Nation Ventures also participating. With this recent funding injection, The Folklore Group is poised to make an even greater impact on the beauty and creative industry landscape. This million-dollar funding milestone achieved by the company heralds a new chapter in the story of the African beauty and creative industries.

This raise has enabled it to expand its platform and membership offering, including the launch of The Folklore Source (which provides access to manufacturers and freelancers), The Folklore Capital (which provides access to financial support to entrepreneurs), The Folklore Hub (where brands can find educational materials for them to scale), and a lineup of in-person and virtual education and community-driven events. This milestone signals not only a significant investment in African entrepreneurship but also underscores the growing global relevance of African beauty and fashion.

“So far, the experience has been hard and tiring, but rewarding,” Amira Rasool, the founder and CEO of The Folklore Group tells BeautyMatter. “Seeing how we’ve continued to pivot from a DTC, a B2B, and the ‘2.0’ which is this one-stop shop that will enable us to build technology that will help brands in the future has been an eye opener,” she continues. This pivot and constant upgrading of the business model run by The Folklore Group mainly premises on the need to better serve its customers and users. In doing this and gaining clarity from brands, some of the main operations they have had to incorporate in smoothly running the platform includes running a weekly forty five minutes call with up to fifteen brand owners, and dispatching questionnaires for surveys and data collection.

Over time the platform has gained a reputation as a fashion e-commerce platform, even though it has always worked with beauty brands in Africa since its inception, stocking many leading beauty brands in the continent. “This is the case because of how we started, but we have recently decided to change our positioning approach, and like we agreed internally, beauty is one of the biggest verticals we’re looking to expand into,” Rasool says, “and that includes using this new resources to create brand awareness and content for beauty brands, bring in more beauty retailers, and ultimately upscale the beauty industry in Africa through this raise,” she continues. By curating a selection of premium beauty brands alongside its fashion labels, The Folklore Group will further elevate African beauty products to a hungry global audience. This not only boosts brand visibility, but also reshapes perceptions of African craftsmanship.

Although Africa's $62.14 billion beauty and personal care industry has long been a wellspring of tradition, innovation, and natural resources that elevates local communities, hurdles are still abound for those seeking market entry points. As Africa’s beauty industry continues to gain momentum on the global stage, there are both opportunities and challenges ahead. Continued investment in infrastructure, supply chains, and education will be crucial for sustainable growth. Platforms like The Folklore Group are pivotal in propelling this growth of beauty brands onto the international stage. “We definitely have the resources to support these emerging beauty businesses. We are just now focused on getting those brands,” Rasool says. “One of the major reasons many beauty brands in the continent fail is access to financial resources and infrastructure.” In covering this lapse, new launches like The Folklore Capital allow brands to apply for working capital, discuss the size of their business, and get paired up with lending partners currently partnering with The Folklore Group, providing the brands with access to capital.

By providing a digital marketplace that transcends geographical boundaries, Rasool's venture facilitates direct access to African beauty products for consumers worldwide. With this new launch, brands, whether nascent or established, can sign up and create an account, do a self-serviced onboarding process, and upload the service themselves. An interesting thing about this new launch and why it is very significant for new founders is that they do not have to be in business for a long time to have access to The Folklore Group’s portfolio of consumers, making it an open-ended platform where they get to monitor the entire retail chain themselves. “What we are essentially doing here is providing them with the right tools and technology to reach a much wider audience and facilitate their growth,” Rasool adds.

The $3.4 million seed funding secured by The Folklore Group signifies a vote of confidence in Africa's burgeoning beauty and wider creative industry in the continent. Investors recognize the multiple potential and market opportunities within this sector, which has often been historically underrepresented in mainstream global markets. The infusion of capital will fuel The Folklore Group's expansion efforts, enabling them to scale operations, onboard more brands, and enhance their technological infrastructure. Raising this substantial sum of funding underscores the impacts of Africa’s beauty industry and the founders rewriting the narrative, as entrepreneurs like Amira Rasool are carving out spaces for themselves, and contributing to a more inclusive global beauty landscape.


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