The Nana Benz : Africa’s original girl bosses.
The Nana Benz were women who sold African wax print fabric at a time after many African countries had gained their independence from colonial rule. Living in Togo, they occupied a unique trading position. Trade rules existing in some African countries post-Independence, prevented Dutch textile manufacturers from trading directly with some African countries. However, the situation was different in Togo. These women were, therefore, a key part of the wax print trade and enabled the Dutch to penetrate other African markets. It is said that at its height, their trade made up no less than 40% of Togo's GDP at that time. Their penchant for the Mercedes Benz gained them the nickname 'Nana Benz'. I like to think that my own Grandmother was in her own way a 'Nana Benz'. She sold wax print in Northern Nigeria. A fact I only discovered after I started selling these fabrics myself. Today I raise a socially distanced and virtual glass to all the 'Nana Benz' - women doing pretty amazing things at a time and in a place where you might least expect.