#WIB-Q&A With Pretty Kubyane Co-Founder Coronet Blockchain

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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

A. Coronet Blockchain is AB2B2C eCommerce Marketplace: that provides blockchain vetted human hair extensions & hair care products to African salons & retailers from ethical global manufacturers at lower sourcing costs.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

A. Back in 2013 we were approached by an ex-colleague who had a human hair extensions business. She wanted our expertise to put systems in place in order to formalise the business. Within 36 months we evolved the brand into 4 branches with 2 of them inside 5-star hotels, achieved $2m annual revenue & employing 40 full-time trained/certified staff.

After this success story, we were approached by mainstream retail brands with over 200 department stores across Africa to supply the human hair extensions products at scale. Parallel to that, we had overwhelming requests from salons across Africa wanting the same success story. All the brands that approached had similar pain-points:

• Product quality issues (38% of the 100 million human hair pieces sold in Africa are fake).

• Africa salons spend $40K annually on travel, Visa & accommodation: outdated sourcing methods traveling to China, India and other regions to by hair, further to 4 middle-men between them and the manufacturers leading to inflationary costs of hair to the end consumer.

• 80% of the salons lacked business systems that are critical to sustainability i.e. booking systems & inventory management systems.

We compared notes across various ecosystems and it became clear that all roads pointed to Blockchain: as a solution for us to create impact at scale, ensure product quality at scale, formalise more businesses at scale.

Coronet Blockchain was founded to provide quality authenticated human hair extensions and hair care products to Africa salons & retailers from vetted global manufacturers at low sourcing costs, with tech features such as booking and inventory management.

3. What is your role in the business?

A. On paper I am a Chief Operations Officer (COO) but being a co-Founder of a young company within a fast pace environment I often have to adapt very quickly and learn new roles all the time and serve where I am needed.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

A. I studied fashion and the Public relations. I continue to attend masterclasses and study online. I am currently learning digital marketing and influencer marketing, I put in 21 hours a week to stay up to date with current trends within blockchain, African supply chains and eCommerce business models.

5. How did you finance your business?

A. The first 36 months of industry hands-on research and due-diligence we bootstrapped the business. We were very fortunate to have the expertise that laid a solid foundation for us to build a proof of concept and design a strong business case that is fundable. Have we procured external expert input we would have needed a budget of around 6 figures. Our hard work and sacrifices paid off when in 2019 IBM provided seed capital in 2 funding tranches to build the technology through an investment programme (EEIP).

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

A. My day is spent across normal operational activities, managing stakeholders, lots of meetings thankfully, 90% are virtual meetings. Seasonal photoshoots to update our product catalogues, speaking engagement at least 3 times a week.

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

A. I work for a family business with my husband as my business partner. It is very difficult not to “take work home”. Firstly I have learned to switch hats very swiftly and be strict with work-life balance measures.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

A. Being a solutionist firstly to African markets at global standards. I believe strongly in the made in Africa for Africa by Africans movement.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

A. During a meditation session, I also love reading biographies they provide priceless wisdom and from observing the little efforts brands put in they make a great difference.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

A. Digital marketing accounts for 80%.

11. What is next for your business?

A. We’re currently evolving our technology for a food supply chain and were are well positioned and at the forefront of solutions that are putting wheels to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

A. Perfection is the enemy of progress. There is never a perfect time to start or grow a business. Agility and adaptability are key.

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