Fatuma Abdullah: I am motivated by wanting to do better and making an impact

Fatuma Abdullah: My business is special because it contributes to raising confident African children Click To Tweet

We all know and probably owned at least two of the famous blonde doll in the world, Barbie. It has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for over 50 years and it doesn’t seem to lose its popularity. A Kenyan-born entrepreneur wanted African girls to embrace their ethnic diversity and allow them to celebrate their uniqueness and thus Akiki Distributors was founded.

Fatuma Abdullah is the founder and owner of Akiki Distributors (Pty) Ltd, which manufactures and distributes Akiki Dolls. “Akiki’s Short Stories”, is her first self-published book. The Johannesburg-based entrepreneur has worked in Banking and NGO sectors delivering on development projects across Africa. 

We had the pleasure of interviewing Fatuma and this is what we learnt from her…

Why Akiki Dolls?

Akiki Dolls is about affirming the African girls’ confidence. Seeing themselves in a positive light translates to a positive self-image and a healthy self-esteem.

I want African children to experience and to grow in love with an Afro-centric 5-year-old girl who they can identify with. I chose the name Akiki, which in Swahili means ruby (the precious stone). A stone associated with nobility, high energy, courage and confidence.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired by my children’s laughter, Akiki’s stories are structured around that happiness.

Also, I am motivated by wanting to do better and making an impact. I love reading books on people’s purpose and life lessons, it is stimulating to see we have the power to choose how our story will turn out and the impact we have on others. It gives me the positivity which I carry through Akiki’s ventures.


How do you market the dolls you create? And what has been the most successful form of marketing to date?

Mostly it has been online. Social media is a good channel for creating product awareness and the reach is global.

We are on Facebook, we have an Instagram account and we also market through our website.

Word of mouth and online marketing have been very successful for us.

What are your responsibilities as the business owner that have been unique to your business?

As the business owner, I am the author and Akiki’s dress designer. I envision the illustrations in the books and I also do the marketing of our products.

However, with the growth I am looking to delegate some of the responsibilities.

Did you have a blueprint/business plan before you started Akiki Dolls?

I had a blueprint in my head to begin with but it has evolved since. I was eager to get Akiki into momentum and was working on incremental activities.

                   Akiki Products                                          FB1

How closely have you stuck to this initial plan?

I have since made the time and gone through the valuable exercise of developing a business plan and having it documented. It’s not vastly different but it puts things into perspective and makes it easier to articulate the specifics.

Our children need to see more positive illustrations about themselves & their countries Click To Tweet

What makes the Akiki doll unique?

My business is special because it contributes to raising confident African children, by providing them with the play tools and literature that teach and reinforce positive perceptions of black Africans.

Our children need to see more positive illustrations about themselves and their countries, they need to read books where they are the stars. Akiki storybooks are concept themed stories all children can relate to and learn from.


Did you write Akiki’s short stories, if so, what will the next book be about? If not what would you write about?

Yes I did. It was my first self-published book. I have Akiki’s travel series coming up, I am very excited about that and the other stories I am working on.

I want to write short stories of African women and men. Everyone has their own magic and it would be interesting to capture that.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here