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Meet the Women Behind the Inclusive Eyewear Brand Wazi Vision

By Margaret Mandeya | Thu Apr 20 2023
Wazi Vision is a woman-owned eyewear brand known for its stylish designs that are made with African features in mind. Leaving behind a career in management consulting and risk advisory, Brenda Katwesigye Baganzi launched Wazi to fill a gap for high-quality, customizable and affordable prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses in the region. Together with her co-founder, Geogette Ochieng Ndabukiye, they shared with Renew Capital more about their manufacturing and design processes and their plans to disrupt the future of the eyewear industry to make high-quality glasses accessible across East Africa.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q. How do you ensure your glasses are comfortable for all face shapes and are of the highest quality?
When we initially started Wazi Vision, the idea was to provide low-cost eyewear. From talking to customers we started to see an opportunity to also provide a solution for glasses that are designed for African facial features. Wazi offers a gallery of eyewear designed for different face shapes, nose shapes and nose bridges, to ensure that our frames fit well and are comfortable. We also offer custom-made eyewear for customers who prefer bespoke design and fitting. The glasses are made with high-grade acetate (a type of nylon-based plastic) to ensure the best quality frames. We are also currently testing the use of locally-sourced materials including bamboo and cow horn which we hope to put on the market soon.
Q. What are some of the challenges you have faced while running your business and how have you been able to overcome them?
We are faced with the challenge that potential customers don't believe that Ugandan-made frames can be as high-quality as Wazi’s are. One of the ways that we have been able to overcome this perception is by getting recognized by people who are seen as thought leaders to wear the brand and vouch for the quality. This has been successful and our research shows that referrals contribute to a large portion of our customer base. Another challenge has been the investment required to pioneer the eyewear manufacturing process. Research and development can be tedious and time-consuming and also requires capital—but it is a necessity to ensure that we are delivering a high-quality product to the market. 
Q. What are some exciting initiatives you have planned for the future of Wazi?
We are excited about making the Wazi brand more visible through partnerships with insurance companies, corporate organizations, optometrists and ophthalmologists. And we are also very excited about continued opportunities to give back to low-income communities. Last year alone we were able to go out to low-income communities and hard-to-reach areas in different parts of Uganda and distribute hundreds sets of Wazi frames to people who would otherwise not be able to access eyeglasses.
Q. What do you think the future holds for the eyewear industry in East Africa?
Some aspects of East Africa’s eyewear industry are already starting to change. Brands like Warby Parker have attempted to make some changes in terms of style and cost, but there's still plenty of room for disruption in terms of how people actually access eyeglasses—especially in Africa. We know we must constantly evolve to stay ahead when it comes to innovation, both in our brand and type of designs and also the ways in which people can access and finance eyewear. 
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

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