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BH24: Bokoko to invest in Zimbabwe tourism

Founder and chairperson of the Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project (BBALP), and former executive director of the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce in New York, Bisila Bokoko says she is considering investing in the country’s tourism industry as it has a lot of potential to prosper.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors Zimbabwe meeting on strategies to enter international markets this morning, Bokoko, who has been in the country for the past week said she has had successful meetings which she would like to follow up when she comes back to Zimbabwe.

“I think I am still exploring some areas but tourism would be a potential area that I would focus my interest and of course social work, I am happy working here with my philanthropic work. Through tourism you can get to have a lot of investment.

“I have been meeting with young entrepreneurs, designers and my impression of this country keeps improving. Zimbabweans actually don’t know how much potential they have. The level of professionalism and enthusiasm is high,” she said.

Besides the literacy foundation from which Zimbabwe has already benefited, Bokoko has interests in the wine making and shoe industry all over the world.

She said the problem with Zimbabwe is the lack of a clear marketing strategy to attract partners into the sectors that need funding.

“The problem is that Zimbabweans needs to be more out there, to market themselves so that people understand more what you have to offer and people will be more willing to really team up with you and do something. I believe that people don’t have knowledge about what Africa has to offer and Africa hasn’t marketed itself as a whole, it is not just a Zimbabwean problem but it’s an African problem. Africa knows what’s going on in Europe but we don’t know what’s going on in Africa,” she said.

She said money should not always be the limitation as a lot of the successful people started from scratch.

“The economy’s restraints should not stop you because you have your brains and sometimes you cannot do things alone. Most of the successful cases, we have someone who has the capital and someone with the mindset,” she added.

IODZ chairperson Eve Gadzikwa said Zimbabwe should learn from Bokmoko’s experience and formulate a new strategy for doing business.

“In Zimbabwe we have many SMEs and what they are just looking for is a market to sell their products. But we allow ourselves to be limited by the borders. We create these limitations for ourselves. Unless we market ourselves the partners will not come to us. So we need to create a good positive brand image, marketing our country positively to the rest of the world. For a long time Zimbabwe has been isolated but we need to reverse that and get our economy running,” she said.


UNCTAD’s World Investment Forum 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland

Bisila Bokoko was selected as one of the Masters of Ceremony at the 50th UNCTAD’s Empretec Women in Business Award Ceremony, along side with Mr. Olivier Dominik from Radio Suisse Television. Bisila is also a panel Moderator for “Making Value Chains Work for the Poor”. (Click here to see the video of the award ceremony)

Moderator at Making Value Chains Work for the Poor Session

“For the fiftieth consecutive year, audiences around the world will have the best seat in the house when they witness the progress that UNCTAD has made over the years and the challenges that lie ahead.

The Finalists are living testimony of the impact that initiatives that support entrepreneurship can have. These include job creation, innovation, increasing the quality of life of the women and their communities and giving them a voice and an outlet to inspire others.

One of the highlights of the commission was, last April, the announcement of the 10 finalists for the UNCTAD’s Empretec Women in Business Award (WBA). The awards have been presented every two years since 2008. This year was particularly competitive, as more than 100 nominations were received.”  -Read more from Tropics Magazine

For more information about the UNCTAD World Investment Forum, click here.

TROPICS: The Iconic AGATHA RUIZ DE LA PRADA to Visit Nigeria & to Attend Local Fashion Week.

(New York, NY)— This September, Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, multi Awards-Winning Fashion Designer will head to Africa again to honour her invitation from the “Nigeria Fashion Week” committee. The event has continuously provided the platform for local designers to rediscover themselves and for global brands to make success of their creative talents. This trip, and the cities the iconic Designer is planning to visit, will highlight many of the projects that Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada has long worked on—fashion development, business growth and humanitarian projects to name but a few.

Six months ago, Fashion Designer extraordinaire Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada Company appointed Bisila Bokoko as their new Global Ambassador for her legendary brand and thanked her for her generous involvement around the world. With a great pleasure, Bisila Bokoko welcomed her new mission with humility, showing a strong bond with the Fashion Designer and her successful label. Global Brands Ambassador, Bisila Bokoko, is paving her own lane in the fashion realm. Known for her professionalism and diligence, she sets her own standards, while maintaining originality and excellence in representing the brand.

Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada is a Spanish noble and Fashion Designer; and this will be the most exciting trip to the continent made by the famously known as the 12th Marquise of Castelldosrius. Previously, she has been a guest of honour and a representative of Spanish fashion on the main catwalks of Albania, Germany, Argentina, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Slovakia, the United States of America, France, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Romania, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan… This will not be the first time that Fashion Designer Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada will be setting her foot on African soil. She has recently been seen showcasing her collections at the “Fashion Night Soiree” in Banjul, Gambia where fashion lovers have applauded her colorful designs alongside Gambian tailors and craftsmen. As a friend of the continent and especially with color as her flag, Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada is once again expected to rock the show in Nigeria where she has been invited as a “special Guest.”

Over the years, Fashion Designer Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada has continued to build upon her longstanding commitment to Africa through her fashion house. Welcoming Bisila Bokoko as the new Global Ambassador allows her to impact lives throughout the “Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Program,” better known as BBALP.

Both Fashion Designer Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada and Bisila Bokoko are super excited about this upcoming event and they look forward to using this opportunity to convey optimism.

Article by Tropics Magazine

Fishbowl NY: Fern Mallis and One Criminally Dressed Designer | Dishing With a Global Ambassador

Fishbowl NY Article by Diane Clehane

Today I was joined by fashion industry insider Mickey Ateyeh, fresh off her vacation in Italy, who, it must be said, knows everyone who is anyone. Mickey put together today’s lunch to introduce me to her longtime pal, PR maven Judith Agisim, who, in turn, brought along her client Bisila Bokoko. I’d seen Judith in this very room many times but never had the occasion to meet her. And, as you already know, in certain circles, all roads lead to Michael’s.

When I arrived a little before noon Bisila was already in the lounge, so I took the opportunity to chat with her about her position as global ambassador to The Liceu Barcelona Opera House, where, while based in New York City, she is charged with promoting the historic house in the States and around the world. With two master’s degrees in international relations and business and a law degree from Universidad CEU San Pablo, Bisila told me she has always worked with global companies and her dream has always been to “be a catalyst for change.” In her current role with Barcelona’s Opera House, she is charged with enticing American opera fans and the culturally curious to visit Barcelona. “Eight million Americans visit Spain every year – there are so many reasons that the Opera House should be a stop on their tour.” Of course, said Bisila, the architecture alone is reason enough to visit the building, which was constructed in the 19th century. But it has a storied history as well. The Opera House (which seats 4,000!) has hosted many legendary performers, including Plácido Domingo and is unique within the opera world, she explained, because unlike the rest of the houses in Europe built for royalty, the Barcelona Opera House was “built by the bourgeois” and has always been enjoyed by all. “So in my role, it’s important to keep the spirit alive that everyone is welcome. It’s not just the blue bloods who enjoy the music.”

But the city’s social swans are most definitely on Bisila’s radar and, with Judith’s help, she’s been meeting them all since the women began working together in February of this year. “She has cleverly set up lunches with many of the most important people in fashion, business and society, which has been very helpful,” said Bisila (We’re so very flattered!). “It is very important to connect with the people in the city who have a great interest in opera and the arts.” Last month, 120 of Manhattan’s top influencers were invited to a cocktail party at The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute on Park Avenue. The Opera House got a royal boost from none other than the Queen herself, who was on hand to greet the A-listers (including Sharon Bush and Annette de la Renta) and the opera aficionados who attended. “She was so warm and inviting and everyone wanted to meet her,” said Bisila. “The goal was to make a very good impression.” Mission accomplished.

Clever Bisila also knows that at the heart of every great culture is its food, so she’s also put together fabulous dinners at the Opera House, held during the intermissions in the stunning Mirror Room. Patrons get a taste of the local cuisine during the season, which runs from September to May. “The gastronomy of Spain is another reason that draws people to Barcelona, so it makes perfect sense,” she said. And Bisila knows a little something about food. When she first came to New York in 2000, she worked her way up to the position of executive director to the Spanish-U.S. Chamber of Commerce and arranged tours for the editors of magazines such as Saveur, Wine Spectator and Food & Wine. She’s been the brand ambassador to Foodie Channel, Spain’s online Lifestyle Channel. “I love anything having to do with food!”

Having lived in Spain for most of her life Bisila’s roster of friends reads like the TOC in Hello magazine. She counts many members of several royal families of Europe as friends. When I told her I’d written a book  on Princess Diana several years ago, she shared a lot of interesting information about the people she knew in the late princess’s inner circle. Sorry, but it’s OTR.

Like so many of the fashionable folks I’ve come to meet at Michael’s, Bisila’s personal story is a fascinating one. Besides her work as a cultural ambassador, she is a tireless humanitarian with her own charitable organization, The Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project, which promotes literacy and libraries in Africa. Her African parents emigrated from Equatorial Guinea to Madrid to escape violence and a “complicated political situation” in the 70s. In adjusting to their new lives in Spain, Bisila’s mother studied to be a nurse, while her father became a lawyer and raised Bisila and her three brothers. In reminiscing about her childhood, Bisila recalls how unique it was at the time for a black man to be seen in the country wheeling a toddler around in a stroller. “A lot of black people in the country that is mostly white feel self-conscious, but we never really felt different. Even when I’m with Americans and we will go someplace and they will say, ‘There isn’t going to be a lot of black people there,’ I will say, ‘Who cares?’ I don’t see colors, I see people.’”


Happy Birthday to Bisila!!

Bisila turns 40 and have been blessed with the love of family and friends. In celebration of her birthday, BBES will be hosting a birthday bash in her name and proceeds will go to BBALP.

On Thursday, July 10th, BBALP and BBES are hosting the celebration of Bisila Bokoko’s 40th birthday at rooftop lounge, Above Allen in New York City.

Celebrate the 40th birthday of Bisila Bokoko! A woman with a heart the size of Africa, she is dedicated to providing books and educational opportunities all over Africa. Revel in African Opulence and honor the rich culture of Africa at the hottest party of the summer at the posh Above Allen rooftop.

All proceeds will go towards the Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project to help build two beautiful libraries in Uganda and Zimbabwe.

BBALP’s mission is to promote literacy among the African people building well-equipped, modern and sustainable efficient libraries in with the aim to share the gift of ideas and education in Africa.

Our goal is to build 5 libraries by the end of 2015. We assist the rural poor of Africa by helping create village libraries that are energy and technologically efficient.

“With a book you will never feel alone!” Founder Bisila Bokoko is a person who travels often for work, and she always carry a book with her. Whether she is waiting in an airport, sitting on an airplane, alone in her hotel room, or eating by herself in a restaurant, she is always in good company with a good book.

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