adding-top:1px; padding-right:5px; font-family:times; font-size:100px;”>The global fashion brand United Colors of Benetton [UCB] is dancing to the African drums with the recent launch of its global campaign “Africa Works.” Africa Works shines the spotlight on African entrepreneurs in Africa. The spirit of the campaign and its message seems to demonstrate that the West is really serious, this time, about moving Africa along, economically. A micro-credit Africa is interesting. Highly curious to see the terms of the loans. I also tried to ignore my irritation with that slogan “Africa Works” but can’t help it. It is so vague and broad. Does it mean Africa works because as their campaign images show, African people are now ready to till the soil? If so, Africans have been doing back breaking jobs for aeons. Does it mean Africa’s infractsructure works? Confusing slogan, especially if you do not have the luxury of the images to know it refers to Micro-credit. In any event, the spirit of their campaign ought to carry the day. Below is an excerpt from one of UCB’s press releases: “Dakar, 13th February 2008 – Benetton puts the spotlight on entrepreneurial Africa. Its global communication campaign for 2008 promotes the Birima micro-credit programme in Senegal, a co-operative credit society founded by the Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour. The programme will also receive financial support from Benetton Group.
Africa Works – the slogan of the campaign developed by Fabrica – will appear on billboards and in the press throughout the world, from February 2008. It features Senegalese workers who have used micro loans to start small, productive businesses. Photographer James Mollison portrays them with the tools of their trade against a neutral background. They include, amongst others, a fisherman, a decorator, a musician, a jewellery-maker, a farmer, a tailor, two textile sellers and a boxer. These everyday people become tangible symbols of an Africa that uses the dignity of work to fight poverty, promote equitable development, maximise its resources and take back responsibility for creating its future.
Alessandro Benetton, Executive Deputy Chairman of Benetton Group explains the conviction with which Benetton has backed the project: “We chose to support and promote this important project because, unlike traditional acts of solidarity, it offers tangible support to small local entrepreneurs through the efficient use of micro-credit. Precisely because it is based on entrepreneurial talent, hard work, optimism and interest for the future, this project effectively promotes the new face of Africa.”
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