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Made in the motherland.

For Tunde Dada and his wife, Temi, both Nigeria natives, bringing pieces of the Motherland to American consumers has been a lesson in entrepreneurial risk-taking. "When we started out, several merchants on our street didn't believe an Afrocentric business could make it," recalls Temi, the 30-year-old vice president of Tunde Dada House of Africa Inc., a n Orange, N.J., company that sells African clothing, books, games and art "They definitely weren't encouraging."

But the Dadas proved their skeptics wrong. The 3-year-old company posted close to $400,000 in sales last year, up from 1991 revenues of $200,000-plus, and expanded its product list to include a self-designed line of disposable Kente partyware. The store also carries nearly 3,000 titles for African-American adults and children, and wholesales books, games and clothing to other retail stores.

Says Tunde, 32, the company's president: "African-Americans in this country are demanding products that reflect their own culture. We've been starved for information about ourselves for so long."

Starting with $15,000 in savings--$10,000 of which was charged on the Dadas'credit cards--the couple opened up shop in October 1990 after a successful summer run as vendors in various cultural festivals in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. "We saw that Kente products were getting extremely popular here," notes Tunde.

Now that Tunde and Temi have proved themselves in the retail arena, they plan to focus more on production and distribution. "We need to hire about six more full-timers to handle orders and for shipping items," says Tunde, who now employs 10 full-time staffers. "In the future, I see us having a large distribution network, importing more products from Africa and manufacturing more items ourselves with other designers."
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Title Annotation:Tunde Dada House of Africa Inc.
Author:Hunter-Gadsden, Leslie
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:May 1, 1993
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