About

[ You may now find Benin Mwangi on The Cheetah Index, African Path, and the African Path Village.  The beninmwangi.com blog is unfortunately no longer active]

My name is Benin. I began going to Africa during my economics undergraduate study. Currently, I am a credit analyst by profession, however my personal interests are in economic development and public policy-particularly with respect to Africa. This site is about the who, when, how, and why of doing business in Africa. My belief is that more trade could in Africa would greatly complement the aid that the continent already receives.

beninmwangi.com is actually part II of the Benin Epilogue, part I can be found at The Benin Epilogue

So what does Benin Mwangi mean anyway? Well, Benin is the name that I was given at birth. My parents named me after the great and ancient nation state called Benin. Benin was known both for being a region of immense economic development and for being the region that created some of the most beautiful and advanced bronze in the world. Today, the remnants of this ancient empire may be found in Benin City, which is in Nigeria. My understanding is that the Ancient Benin is not related to the modern day country called Benin.

Mwangi is a name which is very common in Kenya, amongst men who speak Kikuyu as their first language. The name literally translates to “he who wanders”. My wife’s parents, in adherence/adaption to Kikuyu customs, gave me my Kikuyu name during our Kikuyu wedding ceremony and the name has stuck with me since.

It just so happens that the two regions that inspired both of my names are on opposite ends of Africa. The name “Benin” comes from West Africa and the name “Mwangi” comes from East Africa. I like to think of the joining of these two names as symbolic of my mission to further connect America and Africa, through business.

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Responses

  1. Lovely, lovely. I am liking this.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Nice new blog layout Benin!

  3. Dave:

    Thanks what a coincidence. I was just thinking about you and some of our other fellow bloggers from S.A., actually yesterday and this morning.

    Thanks for the kind words!

  4. Looking good Benin. We await great things as you bring diverse worlds within the melting pot that is commerce and global business.

  5. Thanks Josh, that’s a really poetic way of putting it and I like that. Every day, I ask myself what can be done to help people who are doing small business, but often informal businesses-both in the States and in Kenya, Naija, S.A., Ghana, and other African countries.

    My observations lead me to believe that:

    Focused Business Education(which brings more finance opportunities) + more trading opportunities (global business)= the key

    Thanks again Josh.

  6. Congrats on your new blog friend.

    keep up the good works of African Renaissance.

    Regards to your family.

  7. Philomena:

    Thanks so much, coming from you that really means a lot. To your family, as well, I bid good tidings!

  8. Benin,

    This is old friend. Very insightful blog you have here. We should catch up (drop me a line sometime robbind@cna.org).

    Darron Robbins

    SWD c/o 1993

  9. Darron,

    Bro…Now, thats a surprise! How did you bump into me here?

    It’s cool, I appreciate it and will be in touch with you, soon!

  10. Hey ma man, I am just writing to say that I read your blog.. each and every article… keep it up!!!

  11. Nolawi:

    Thanks, means a lot too me-especially after seein your blog.

    By the way-how’s the fashion and clothing business treating you?

  12. I love the new look brother.

    Keep up the good work. You’re one of my rss favorites.

    Cas

  13. Thanks Cas, I am glad to know that. Likewise, I enjoy reading yoursite too and your new layout is wonderful too!

  14. Hello! Good Site! Thanks you!

  15. Benin,

    Great site. The fact that black/African men and women are communicating on such a thoughtful level is inspiring.

    I’m looking to transition into some type of enterprise(I’ve been an actor for 20 years)and read your site every single day. Over the years, I have actively sought out business opportunities with folks who look like us whenever possible, for I do not cotton to the notion that our sepia-toned ice cubes are less colder than anyone else’s. I look forward to being nourished and educated by the interesting people who post their insights/advice here.

    Peace, Brother
    Anthony

    PS — Based on your experience, and this an obviously broad question as we are dealing with disparate countries: How are we, as black Americans, perceived by our African cousins?

  16. Anthony:
    Hi and thanks for the very kind words. I am very flattered that you have considered me in such a way as to ask me such a profound question. I think that there is no short answer to the question, as the continent of Africa is so diverse. There are nearly 1 billion people on the continent and it is interesting to note two things.
    1. not all of the people that are born on the African continent are black. In fact there are many with roots in Asia, the Arabias, and Europe who are 6th, 7th, or 8th generation on the continent. So I say this to say that the notion of a unified African identity is something that we have here in America that doesnt necessarily exist by and large on the continent. However, I have met many from different parts of the continent who long to know more about those who are now in the Americas. Likewise, I have met others whose only concern is within their tightly knit circles of influence or they are primarily concerned with those that speak the same language-and that’s ok too.
    2. The geographic map that we see today when we look at the African continent is broken up into 53 sovereign nations. But prior to these national structures what existed were nations, city states, kingdoms, and in some cases empires grouped around the language that one spoke. In other words what some might today call tribes, in earlier times some may have called states. Unfortunately today many of the physical and national borders on the African continent cut right in the middle of some of these relatives. Oftentimes one finds that in one country you’ll have French being used as the official language and English used officially in the neighbor. On one hand what this has done in some instances is hamper commuinication between neghboring and closely related people, but on the other hand it has also fostered a very broad sense of commonality or nationality on the other hand. My observation though is that the average person from the countries that I have lived in or visited who I have asked questions relative to their identity either identifies strongly with their country or more strongly with their first language or mother tongue. So what this means to me is that one identifies less with being black or brown or yellow or white and more with Fulani or Hausa or Gikuyu or Kra or Wolof or what-have you. And something else is that to someone who speaks Zulu maybe someone who speaks Twi appears just as distant to them as they could appear to someone from Austrailia. Thats kind of why it would be difficult to form a single identity.
    However, I think the dynamics change slightly upon someone from one of these groupings immigrating to a place like America, where there is one language and primarily only a few shades of people.
    I will follow up with you more when I have been able to better collect my thoughts. In the meantime, I would encourage you to visit the African Union site, they leadership of the Union seems to be seriously pondering the development of a more unified African State. Also if you want to go somewhere where the topics are more inclusive to a broader group of people, then I would encouraage you to visit the Africanloft.com site to get the community feel or maybe the africanpath.com site to get a slightly more formal understanding of the various ideneties within the African continent. Also you mentioned your interest in business and enterprise-for that you are already at the right place! 🙂
    And thanks a lot for the support!

  17. I love the way you haven taken Africa to heart. I am an African Who hopes that Africans can realize how self-sufficient we can be only if we step in and be part of what is taking place in Africa Economically. Africa is growing, but at a very slow rate. If Africans can start investing back home without fear, I think Africa will grow very fast Economically. I admire the way Asians believe in themselves and also how tied together they are. We Africans can also lay rules of engagement Business wise, which means that if there is an African selling the same thing an Asian is selling next door, I should start buying from the African. Unfortunately that sounds like discrimination of some sought, but we are hurting right now, a lot of Africans start businesses, which collapse within a very short time. We don’t last. OK, let’s say a few of us make it, which is good, but we need to see Africans get into long term staff.
    Anyway, I started a Magazine called “ POA “, it talks about People of Africa.
    Log on to http://www.poamag.com, you will see some of what we are working on. Our web site is still new, but the first Issue is already. If you would like to order a copy, you are welcome to do so.
    We are also looking for Contributors who can send stories and business overviews for us to publish so that Africans get some education in this things.
    Anybody out there is welcome to do that;
    Please let your voice be heard.
    God bless…

    Kennedy Mage Ambani Publisher & CEO 713 435-9964)

  18. Kennedy:

    Thanks, yes I am very optimistic about some of the trends coming from the continent. This is why I write about it. What I think should cause someone to buy a product produced in let’s say Uganda or Tanzania over one produced in Indonesia or China is comparative advantage. Yes, many Chinese products are produced and sold for less than what it would cost a similarly equipped firm to build in Uganda-so why compete on price?

    In Uganda it may be fine to buy because the product was produced in Uganda; but when marketing exports the comparative advantage must be fully communicated. I think that one of the comparative advantages of products or services originating in many parts of Africa is the high level of education in certain areas-like Nairobi, Kenya. And also the extreme attention to detail that is put into products in a country like Cameroon or Ethiopia. That being said Africa could market many homegrown industries as luxury or quality brands-from entry level luxury on up-the sky is the only limit.

    By the way, your magazine site looks very professional. Give me a shout sometimes.

  19. Nice site Benin.

    Famed you and your blog on BTF.

    Keep up the good work🙂

  20. Mwangi,

    I found your site while searching for the interview you did with Kim. It is good what you are doing here.

    I would like your visitors to read Kenyan short stories at http://kinene.wordpress.com

    Sunny summer!

  21. Very nice site layout. The content is very relavent to your subject matter. This site is a real resource to doing business in Africa.

  22. Hi Benin,can you help me ? can you translate the following it is kikuyu:” uragwo yari iria yakua ” hope you can help,sorry if i disturbed you

  23. “îragwo yari iria yakua ”

    Praises came when it is too late. When a cow dies, the owner realises the real lose. People have a habit of praising someone when they pass away and that is how the saying came about.

  24. Thank you kinene,it was kind of you and thank you Mwangi for allowing me to use your page,all best wishes for the future,Asanti

  25. Dior:

    Thanks a lot. Hey, your live concerts site is pretty hot too.

    Phil:

    I am glad that I didnt say what I initially thought the phrase was, as my translation was totally off. Am also glad that you got the info that you sought. Have you seen Kinene’s site and clicked on the story link? He must be the best fiction( then too maybe that was a true story) that I have ever come across, especially for someone who is not very highly publicized.

    Kinene:

    Thank you very much. That was excellent. I am actually very poor at Kikuyu, but my swahili is better. In fact I initially thought, well won’t say what I thought the phrase was…

    Anyhow, is that a true story that you wrote about that Earl fellow? It was most captivating. I hope you publish it as a book and then make it into a movie!

    Thanks again.

  26. Thank you Benin for your complements. I have been telling stories and people kept on telling me to write so I finally decided to.

    The Earl Elliott story is all fiction.

    Mention my blog to Kimani next time you see him, we went to High school together in the 90s.

  27. Benin, this site has a tankload of great info. Keep it up Bro.

  28. excellent site!
    I was surfing for african designers for the big event “Salone del Mobile” held each year in april in milan, i’m trying to convince some of those “charities” who boast involvement in promoting Africa to host(for free) an exibition of young african designers,iit’s an opportunity for both industry, market and designers: new fresh style, production, sales…..
    I’m not in the business just passion for architecture and design

  29. Really wonderful to stumble across you in the entangled web of our internet lives! Would love to host a very specific carnival on http://slafrica.wordpress.com but not sure how to get in touch with you about our ideas. Please let us know!

    Thank you for a very informative website!

  30. Alanagh:

    Thanks for the very kind words. That is wonderful, you can contact me at beninmwangi (at) gmail (dot) com.

    Look forward to hearing back from you, I saw your blog by the way and it is highly innovative.

  31. This new WordPress blog template is looking good Benin. Easier to read and get around (find stuff) vs. your earlier design. I also like that powder blue color scheme as it conveys a gentler, kinder Benin Mwangi. Keep up the good work.

  32. BRE:

    Thanks Bro, that is something that until now I didnt even notice, but now that you mention it-you’re right.

    Funny thing is, I studied fashion and color for a while and it is a perfect spring tone. And, the spring pallette is the only one that works well for me, anything else clashes with my style and personality… maybe it was my subconcious speaking…

  33. Now this is it, simple and straight to the point. Benin this new look is superb.

  34. Nice new look!

  35. Branded:

    Thanks I’m glad you like it. But something else that I’m happy about is you being the host of the 5th Carnival of African Enterprising!

    David:

    Thanks Man!

  36. Keep it up bro. I am very impressed with what you are doing. My wife Edith and I send our condolences to you at the passing of your dad. Take heart since, as we are taught in our Church, nothing happens without a good reason.

    ps. I enjoy you Kenya Empowerment Newspaper articles and I am proud to write in trhe same Newspaper with you.
    BMJ Muriithi.

  37. In life, one has to leave a legacy for his or her life history.Dad has done his part and we thanks God for the life and good work has done during that life span.Pole for the entire family and all we give God glory for all endfavours.
    Also keep it up for the well organized update condolences book page.
    yours,
    samuel kerbys

  38. Benin
    We are saddened to hear that your father has died and wish to extend our sympathy.

    Although we did not know your father well , we did have a chance of reading about him.He was proud of his Motherland-Africa and of being able to help his children become established.Though this loss is painful,there are many reasons to be proud of your father.

    Please take as much time from work as you need to get your father’s affairs in order.

    Sincerely,

    Chauncy Jere
    Malawi Exposition

  39. We invite you and everyone in your network to join our movement in developing the Corporate Africa. Learn more at:

    Corporate Africa – the concept
    http://www.wenze.com/corporate_africa.htm

    Enjoy!

    Wenze Team

  40. Hello Benin,

    Your blog is very informative and thanks for putting it all together.

    I am a kenyan kikuyu in the states doing web design. It is your business ideas that made me come to your site. What is your ultimate goal to conjoin the U.S and Africa when it comes to business.

    You can reach me at Poppaproductions at gmail dot com and any advice is highly appreciated.

    Once again thanks, Mwangi.

    Best Regards,
    Daniel Chege
    Poppa Productions Inc.

    Poppaproductions at gmail dot com

  41. Absolutely superb blog. It’s wonderful to get a chance to read some well thought-out, passionate (but not ranting) discussion.

    Keep it up.

  42. Dear Sirs/Madams

    I am a small business in the USA, I can not get some information I need about a company called Orchex International CO.,LTD in Benin Africa. I need there e-mail and phone number, I also need the Chambers and local authorits e-mail and phone numbers. Will you please help me, and send me this information on these places. They ordered my product, and they are saying I have to do somethings that does not sound wright to me. I do not want to be scammed by them if this is not a real order

    Trusting You will help me I am

    Larry White

    661 833 2781
    Lnfcc@sbcglobal.net

  43. Nice blog….and love afrokicks concept…
    look for big things coming in the ’08

  44. Benin,
    Nice blog. I am a friend of your fathers. More like one of the hundreds of mentees he had at Lucent. We’ve met once or twice. Just writing to say – nice dedication blog piece about your time in Africa. He spoke of how proud he was that you shared in that experience. Keep shining that light, brother!

    Sean L. Jones


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