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Nigerian Doll Maker Is Taking Barbie Head On: Which Is Best For Your Child?

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MDG : Queens of Africa maker Taofick OkoyaBy Greg B.

In a collective sigh, can we all say finally, it’s happened. A doll maker from Nigeria Taofick Okoya has a shop in Lagos where he makes Queens of Africa dolls.

Okaya takes advantage of a market that is lacking and in need of some product to say the least. The doll market that portrays blacks dolls, as queen is non-existence and marginalized here in the United States.

Okaya stated that he sells between 6,000 to 9,000 dolls per month, and that he has roughly 10-12% percent of this emerging market. Okaya said he outsourced the manufacturing to China, like most companies, where the labor is cheap and the production is high. Like most companies Okaya can take advantage of economies of scale, because of the volume of product being produced there.

Economist Jim O’Neil has named this area MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey). It is a play on the BRIC acronym (Brazil, Russia, India, China). It identifies growing markets around the world that are ripe for economic uptrends.

Mattel the world’s largest toy maker, stated per their spokesman that they have been producing black baby dolls for years, however they have very small footprints in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

It is likely that Mattel sees no real ground to be covered in that part of the world, outside of purchasing the name rights or other corporate moves that can propel them into that arm of the business on a serious level.

“When it comes to sectors like spirits or beer, or even cement, all the international players are already there,” says Andy Gboka, London-based equity analyst at Exotix LLP Partners. “Other sectors, such as toys or less-developed industries, provide a huge potential for local companies.”

Meaning there is room for Okaya to continue to grow without being impeding by corporations seeking to take share. Nice.

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Greg B., is a financial professional and native Ohioan who is the writer here. I am an avid reader, coffee connoisseur and dog lover. Follow me on Twitter @love2edify.

9 Comments

  1. Devon

    January 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    If I was married and had a daughter I would buy his dolls for her!

  2. Nan Rone

    January 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Where can I purchase these dolls?I am pleased that you have designed these dolls. I will purchase them because I want my granddaughter to have dolls that look like real life Black women. She has the foundation and information as far as strong Black women in our family and the world. But, so many Black girls think white is better and that is so not true!!!!!! When I was a child there was only White dolls in
    the stores where I lived. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!

    01-17-14

  3. Dena

    January 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I would love to buy a few for my grand daughters. I always bought Black dolls for my daughter. I wanted her to know there were beautiful dolls that looked like her. Is there a web site I can go to?

  4. Champagne Oden

    January 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I’m gonna buy some for my mom! But why is he outsourcing work to China? That’s taking jobs from
    Africa. I’m sure he could manufactor the dolls somewhere in Nigeria (or another Africa country), where jobs are needed! Nevertheless, I still excited!

  5. Cheryl Hudson

    January 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I was a Barbie Collector many years ago. I have quite a few Black and white Barbies and other dolls. I must say that I will not be supporting this vendor, nor any other vendor from Africa after reading recent sentiments regarding their negative feelings about Black Americans.

  6. Cheryl Hudson

    January 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I also agree that these dolls do not have typical Black features, or natural hair styles (Afro, dreads, braids, twists, locks, etc).

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