“Dabira” means to create something marvelous in the Yoruba language.
Africa is a continent filled with exceptional creative talent. At Dabira, we believe that Africa’s creativity has the power to build prosperous businesses and communities.
Dabira’s mission is to enable entrepreneurs in Africa’s creative industries to build successful brands and businesses. The idea of Dabira first came to its Founder, Charlotte Ashamu, after she spent several years working with creative businesses across Africa. It was difficult for many creatives to access the capital, networks and resources needed to take their businesses to the next level of growth. Charlotte established Dabira because of her strong belief in breaking down these barriers, and in contributing to the success of Africa’s creative industries.
Dabira’s first program began in 2016 with a group of emerging fashion entrepreneurs. We designed training workshops in three of Africa’s creative hubs – Johannesburg, Abidjan and Lagos – to help entrepreneurs master the skills needed to effectively manage a business. We later launched the Dabira Design Market, an innovative retail market showcasing Africa’s creativity in art, design, cuisine and music. To date, we have hosted dozens of markets, bespoke events, conferences and workshops in multiple cities. We remain committed to providing Africa’s creative entrepreneurs with the support they need to prosper while enabling our global community to experience Africa’s contemporary creativity.
Charlotte Ashamu is the Founder and CEO of Dabira. She is a global executive with a 20-year career in international and public affairs. Previously, she served as the Associate Director at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and as a Senior Advisor at the African Development Bank, the largest development finance institution on the African continent. In addition, Charlotte served in leadership roles at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, where she managed programs in over 15 countries to foster the growth of small businesses in the retail, tourism, manufacturing and service industries. Charlotte spent the earlier part of her career as an international trade specialist at the Whitaker Group and Abt Associates in Washington, DC.
A graduate of the Paris Fashion Institute, Charlotte has an extensive portfolio of projects in curating and exhibiting contemporary African design, and has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. She currently serves on the advisory council of the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs and on the boards of several non-profit organizations. She is the recipient of the Mo Ibrahim Leadership Fellowship awarded annually by billionaire philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim. Charlotte holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Africana Studies from Wellesley College and a Master’s of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.