Winner in this category, Grace Bampile is the founder of Haute Africa, a contemporary African print brand established in 2015. The ready-to-wear clothing brand caters for both men and women and is aimed at promoting African sophistication and elegance. 

Haute Africa embodies a modern culture and celebrates Africa’s heritage by narratives of the continent’s rich culture and stories on print. Through colour, art, and portraits of the continent’s communities, Africa’s roots and its uniqueness are showcased – all engraved on printed fabrics. 

Her inspiration for the business came from a desire to break society stereotypes of what is fashionable and what African fashion should look like. She says, “Africa has a rich culture that should be embraced and told through the eyes of those who have experienced it, know it and can tell it in more powerful narratives.” She goes on to say that as clothing can empower confidence, evoke topics of discussion and inspiration, her materials and clothing seek to show that with African attire, one can look and feel good. 

Haute Africa maintains African print as its trademark and stands firm in breaking boundaries in order to merge cultures of artistic mindsets. Grace draws a lot of her inspiration from East African art, culture and architecture. 

She shares that her journey has not been an easy one, having faced tremendous challenges such as being robbed on set and everything stolen from her, as well as financial challenges. Her desire is to purchase more and better equipment to expand her work and dominate the market, for her brand to become the go-to-brand for authentic African wear. 

From the age of 10, she knew she would be in the fashion industry but just didn’t know how. The motivation came from her trip to Rwanda in 2014 where she saw bow ties in African print and that ignited a spark in her to pursue her dream of being part of the fashion industry. Her vision is to grow Haute Africa to become an internationally recognised brand. 

She is of the view that if young people want to see change and create a better Africa then they must act now, and there is no time for excuses. If Rwanda with limited mineral resources can improve its economy, be ranked the second cleanest country in the world, and be one of Africa’s developing countries, then all other African countries can achieve the same milestones as Rwanda. It is up to the youth to implement the change.