Many people are flocking to a little shop in Rwanda for something sweet, cold and yummy. With “ice-cream, coffee, dreams” across its signage, Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams) is the country’s first ice-cream parlor. Offering scoops of passion fruit, strawberry and pineapple flavors, the shop is bringing together locals and changing the lives of the nine women which it employs. "I didn’t have a job before: I just stayed at home. Now I have a vision for the future. I am making money and I can give some of it to my family,“ says 27-year-old Louise Ingabire, who manages the parlor. 

Outside the shop, the nine women are members of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only female drumming troupe, founded by Odile Gakire Katese, the owner of Inzozi Nziza. The troupe was established ten years ago to empower widows, orphans and survivors of the1994 genocide that killed nearly a million people. The musicians and ice cream shop are both featured in the documentary, "Sweet Dreams.”

Read more via The Guardian

There might be ongoing discord in the Middle East, but the startup scene in this area of the world is much closer to solving the tech gender gap than the one in Silicon Valley.

Only 10% of all Internet entrepreneurs are women. However, experts estimate that the percentage of women internet entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa region is at 23% and in the Gulf it’s 35%.

As of 2012, 40 startups have been launched from Business and Technology Incubator, the first incubator in Gaza, a Palestinian city. Surprisingly, more than half of these companies are run by women. 

Read moreFollow policymic

Creating a Business Plan for Your Fashion Business

So you want to start a jewelry line, design handbags or dresses?  Cool, I can’t wait to buy them from you!  But before you run out and order business cards, purchase fabric and hire a publicist, you need to have a plan of action.  I wanted to touch base on a business plan before discussing product and market analysis.

A business plan is a written document that describes how you will run your business.  It covers the seven basic areas of business:

Product Development - continually refining what you’re offering for sales to meet the ever-changing needs of your potential customers.  This is why fashion businesses produce new lines each season.  You need to consistently offer new products to generate repeat customers otherwise you don’t have a business.

Marketing - continually taking action to become even more aware of your customer’s needs and informing your potential customers that your product (or service) is meant for them and why.

Sales - talking face-to-face with your potential customers and getting them to say, “Yes, I’ll buy from you.”

Operations - doing the work of the business.  For example, if you’re in the business of designing handbags, operations would require meeting with a manufacturer to create samples, sourcing materials, exhibiting at trade shows, etc.

Personnel - managing the people who work for you. This is probably the hardest part of owning a business.

Finance - measure the financial results of your business and comparing them with your desired results, using this comparison to identify critical business issues.

Management - making sure the above six areas are working in concert to meet your goals for the business.

In each of the seven basic business areas, your business plan describes:

  • The results that you want to achieve
  • The activities that you need to be done to achieve them
  • The resources (money, people, time, equipment, etc.) required to perform these activities
  • The criteria you will use to evaluate the results
  • The reasons you believe the plan will succeed

Your business plan will also help you determine how much money you really need for your business.  The only way to know how much money you really need is to decide what you’re going to do in each of the areas and figure out how much money it will take to do it.  

You may find that no amount of money will help you have a profitable business.  Perhaps you design on the side of a full-time career as a hobby. It is far cheaper to not to begin an ill-fated business than to learn by experience what a business plan would have taught you at the cost of several days of concentrated work.

Teen opens world’s first pawn shop for $15,000 sneakers

By Michael Gartland

June 15, 2014 | 3:24am

Forget stocks. Sneaker futures are making Wall Street look like a swap meet.

High-end kicks are becoming the currency of choice in New York, and one 16-year-old is taking advantage of the trend — using his own five-figure stock of 45 mint-condition basketball shoes to open the world’s first sneaker pawn shop.

“Young kids don’t have jewelry. They don’t have cars,” said Troy Reed, dad of young entrepreneur Chase “Sneakers” Reed. “But what they do have is the thousands of dollars worth of sneakers in their house.”

Chase, a 10th-grader at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, still marvels over pictures of the freshest sneaker designs online and waits in line for hours to add to his collection. Only now he and his father are also getting them from fellow “investors” who want quick cash.

They have all sorts of reasons for selling short. One pawned fancy footwear to pay for his brother’s funeral. Two teen girls liquidated their sneakers to pay for prom dresses. Another savvy ­investor flipped a pair of LeBron Crown Jewels and two pairs of Jordans and used the thousands in profit to pay for his move to The Bronx from Brooklyn.

The store’s priciest pawned pairs so far — those Crown Jewels — are commanding $1,400, more than five times the $270 sticker price.

“I don’t look at it like a business. It’s what I do. It’s what I breathe,” said Chase. “It’s an idea that’s right in front of your face. It’s just about bringing the idea to life.”

Modal Trigger

The Nike Air Yeezys cost $263 when they were released, but now they go for up to $15,000 on eBay.Photo: Getty Images

During school hours, his father and their sneaker-maven pal Rahsaan “Uncle Bless” Capers man the shop at Lenox Avenue and West 120th Street. They’re looking for “high-end sneakers or dead-stock sneakers” — pairs that are no longer being manufactured. If a prospective pawner’s kicks qualify, they give the shoes a whiff, check to see if they’re yellowing and examine the soles for excessive wear.

“After we evaluate it, we’ll give the kid, say, $100 for the sneakers. If he wants them back, he’ll pay the $100, plus $20 for storing the sneakers,” Troy said.

If someone makes an ­offer, the pawner is notified and has the right of first refusal, provided they can pony up the cash. If the sneakers sell for more, the pawner keeps 80 percent of the profit and the rest goes to the store.

A lightly worn pair’s value can jump exponentially compared to its initial retail price. A pair of Nike Air Yeezys — Kanye West’s signature sneakers — are currently selling for from $1,700 to $15,000 on eBay. Originally, they went for $263. Kanye’s own purported pair of Yeezys are going for $50,000.

Capers, who owns three pairs of Yeezys, said he has been offered close to $17,000 for the trio — a better profit margin than ­Apple stock.


 - Chase ‘Sneakers’ Reed

“I’m still not ready to bring them in yet,” he laughed. “I’m waiting for a sneaker expo first.”

The $30,000 in seed money for Sneaker Pawn came from Chase selling off his own collection — which peaked at 200 pairs.

He and his dad came up with the idea when Chase asked to borrow $50 spending money after waiting all night to dole out his ­father’s hard-earned cash on a new release.

“I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ I’m holding these sneakers until I get my $50 back,” said Troy Reed, who got his start in business making and selling documentaries about Harlem druglords like Alpo and Rich Porter.

But Chase didn’t just plant the seed for the idea or help raise start-up money. After school, he does homework and then stays up late custom-painting sneakers. Typically, he’ll earn between $150 and $250 for each custom paint job.

“Luckily when the store opened, school started slowing down,” he said.

Six years ago, Angela Adeke couldn’t afford the uniforms needed to send her children to school. But with a $150 grant from Village Enterprise, Angela was able to sew her own uniforms – 4,000 of them, in fact. Her tailoring business now supplies the uniforms for four schools in her Uganda region, and with the business skills she learned from Village Enterprise, Angela has opened her own tailoring school, where she has trained 40 other women to sew.

In an area where many people live on under $2 a day, Angela has been able to send her children to boarding school, move into a bigger home, and build a house for her parents. “It gives me great joy to stand as a woman, not begging, but helping others and playing a role in changing the world in which I live,” she says. “Helping make that happen is my greatest pleasure.”

Village Enterprise, based in San Carlos, CA, offers business and financial training, small monetary grants and a savings program to people in Kenya and Uganda.

Read more about Angela’s story at the www.apathappears.org blog.