The World Intellectual Property Day Kickoff Event in Africa was held on 22 April 2021. The webinar titled “Growing Brands: Evolving Opportunities – African SMEs Reflect” discussed pertinent issues vital to ensuring small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) know about intellectual property (IP) rights and how to protect their businesses.
Every 26 April, World IP Day is celebrated to learn about the role that IP rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year’s theme, IP and SMEs: Taking your ideas to market – shines a light on the critical role of SMEs in the economy and how they can use IP rights to build stronger, more competitive and resilient businesses.
The webinar was of interest that the Entrepreneurs were the Panellists. At the same time, the partner organizations interviewed them about their experience with their businesses and the difference having their IP registered made. Ms. Joyce Chimanye from Zimbabwe, Founder Zuvva Fashion and Co-founder, and Trainer Zuvva Fashion School represented one of the SMEs who has registered a trademark with ARIPO and was interviewed by Mr. John Kabare, Intellectual Property Executive, ARIPO.
According to Ms. Chimanye, when she started Zuvva, she didn’t register it. She only realized that someone was also using the same brand name in a different country, making it difficult for her to sell in that country. She did not know what her IP rights were at that time.
The other entrepreneurs included Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Global Health Biotech (Pty) Ltd. The company has developed a natural anti-inflammatory ointment named La-Africa Soother (LAS) from medicinal plants, which helps relieve muscle and joint aches, thus offering athletes, sportsmen, and women an alternative natural anti-inflammatory ointment. This is the first product of its kind aimed at preventative care, meaning it is applied ahead before and after physical activity to prevent anticipated muscle aches and after the act.
Ms. Ruqayyah Muhammad Hussaini from Nigeria, Founder, and CEO of Vivido Schone Int’l Ltd, talked about her passion for natural and healthy alternatives for basic and everyday things that led her to her business of different types of flavoured tea. She is also involved in advocating for women and youth to explore their creative sides and start their businesses.
Ms. Caroline Owusu-Ansah, Born to Ghanaian parents and based in the USA, is the LUV SCRUB founder. LUV SCRUB is a company that focuses on smooth skin by way of exfoliation and markets it across North America.
Ms. Zohra Baraka is the Founder and Managing Director of Mohazo Ex-Impo Ltd, a Kenyan company which, since 1987, has achieved several milestones in the successful trading of authentic handicrafts in local and global markets.
Mr. Doumbia Boureima, Founder and Managing Director Aminata Konte Ltd. In 2008, Mr. DOUMBIA decided to register his small retail business formally. Driven by the idea of innovation, he set out to showcase local products and offer local populations the best products that meet very high-quality standards. Today the company has several industrial property assets (trademarks, trade names, industrial designs, registered with the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI).
Mr. Serge Armel Njidjou from Cameroun is the Founder Agence universitaire pour l’innovation (AUI), an association of engineers and academics passionate about innovation. It was created in 2016 to contribute to the emergence of standardized local manufacturing industry to develop local products adapted to local context and concerns through the exploitation of the results of local research. AUI has just launched its first Spin-Off. Called AUI Techno SARL it is dedicated to the manufacture and marketing of neonatal incubators and other electronically thermo-adjustable devices.
IP is a powerful tool for SMEs in all parts of the world to create economic value and advance their business goals. From licensing to enhancing the market value of your business, the benefits of registering intellectual property (IP) assets are endless.
These business ventures have taken an idea and married it with ingenuity to create a product or a service that consumers want. And each of them can use IP rights to safeguard and create value from their business assets. Yet, many are unaware that they hold IP or that it has value. This means, many are missing out on opportunities to improve their bottom line and grow. Studies show that when businesses are IP savvy and acquire and manage IP rights, they do better.
The webinar, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization in collaboration with the African Union (AU), the Organisation africaine de la propriété intellectuelle (OAPI), the AfrIPI Project of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO) the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Smart Africa and ARIPO is one of the many activities planned ahead of the World IP Day to be marked on Monday, 26 April 2021.