Today marks the launch of Birimian Ventures, the first operational investment company dedicated exclusively to African luxury and premium heritage brands. Founded with an all-female executive team, Birimian is led by Laureen Kouassi-Olsson, a seasoned executive of the African financial services and private equity industries. From launch, Birimian will support designers on the continent and in the diaspora to facilitate and accelerate the growth of their businesses regionally and internationally.
Birimian will be a bridge between the continent’s entrepreneurs and creative talent, and strategic stakeholders in the international fashion and luxury industries. Delivered through a combination of mentoring, financial and operational support, Birimian will establish an ecosystem designed to create value for African entrepreneurs and help independent labels become international brands.
Birimian is launching with four brands that it will support through a combination of financing and bespoke growth strategy. The brands are:
- Ghana-based Christie Brown
- Ivorian fashion designer Loza Maléombho
- Simone et Élise (Côte d’Ivoire)
- YEBA (Belgium)
Created by a team with a strong understanding of premium digital brands, Birimian will take a hybrid approach designed to address the challenges associated with capital, production and international distribution faced by African designers. Birimian will focus on:
- Long-term financing of brands in the company’s portfolio, investing between $30,000 and $3M in brands and creative enterprises at incubation, acceleration and growth levels
- Brand consultation and coaching to ensure business processes and brand identity are in line with each designer’s goals.
- Strengthening of production and distribution capacity through strategic partnerships
- Strengthening of internal control and financial planning processes
- Implementation of an expansion plan ensuring sustainable growth, with investors tied in for a minimum of five years to ensure long-term support for partner brands
- International exposure for creative companies by optimising digital marketing
Birimian was founded by Laureen Kouassi-Olsson, a recognized professional in the African private equity and financial services industries. Its female leadership team is also made up of Michelle Kathryn Essomé, former CEO of the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Investor Relations; Céline Gainsburg-Rey, who specializes in supporting luxury brands, Head of Strategy & Marketing; and Olufunke Faweya, who has dedicated her career to operations management and international brand expansion, who joins as Head of Brand Operations.
Birimian’s governance is strengthened by an investment committee made up of experts in investment, luxury goods, and fashion and will be completed by a creative board of experts and leading figures in the international creative scene that will help Birimian identify talent with strong potential.
Birimian founder Laureen Kouassi-Olsson said: “Birimian is an invitation to discover and embrace a universe: one of exceptional African creativity. Our mission is to combine investment, mentoring and operational support to help our brands achieve their true potential and gain international exposure. Birimian is a call to action for the luxury fashion industry to contribute to the emergence of African heritage brands, and to move towards a more diverse, creative and modern landscape.”