The economic theory around empowering girls to break the cycle of poverty in the developing world is one of the most important doctrines to have emerged in the last 20 years. Educated girls stand up for their rights, marry and have children later, educate their own children and their families and communities thrive. This means that the cycle of poverty can be broken in just one generation. With this in mind, the Nike Foundation – in conjunction with the UK Department for International Development – set out on a mission to develop a unique way of igniting change within Rwanda.
We were tasked with building a brand platform to bring about systemic change through a positive cultural shift within Rwanda. Now that is what we call a challenge, and a great brief!
First off, we sent our Creative Director on a fact-finding mission to Rwanda for six months, to work alongside NGOs to better understand the barriers and possible cultural stumbling blocks. Our approach was to listen, observe and curate the most relevant storytelling methods to inspire, educate and empower adolescent girls to rise from poverty.
What if we created a brand which talked about girls who had done just this? Girls who became empowered and had completed higher education. Girls with valued roles within their communities that affected change, who made wonderful things and had their own businesses and careers – what if we created a brand by girls for girls?
From these thoughts, Ni Nyampinga was born. In the native Kinyarwandan language it means 'the beautiful girl – inside and out – who makes good decisions'.
We created a visual style and brand identity that would be instantly recognisable as Rwandan, drawing inspiration from traditional African crafts, fabrics and pattern-making, and injecting it with a bold, modern palette and typefaces.
Positive, inspiring, educational and entertaining, we created a multimedia editorial platform spanning magazine, radio and mobile. By challenging perceptions and showcasing female role models, Ni Nyampinga offered new skills and advice that teenage girls could not get elsewhere about education, sexual health and violence. Focusing on girl-led creation has driven the brand's cultural resonance and impact – it has directly reached more than one million girls, helping to unlock their true potential and create genuine, systemic change.
We worked with local designers, printers, journalists, and presenters to establish the first colour magazine in Rwanda’s history. Over 100,000 copies are sold per issue, giving it the biggest readership of any publication in Rwanda.
Ni Nyampinga has toured the country in branded roadshows, delivering live educational content and workshops, as well as large-scale music concerts for remote rural communities. We created a nationwide OOH advertising campaign (having to build the billboards ourselves as public advertising was not allowed, and having already convinced the government to make an exception for Ni Nyampinga) from which the magazine and radio had a combined reach of over one third of all teenage girls in Rwanda. After gaining real traction, it is now backed by the Rwandan Education Board and with over one million magazines distributed to-date, the future of Ni Nyampinga looks bright.
In Rwanda, the Ni Nyampinga brand is more widely recognised than the Coca-Cola brand, and it has become so at a fraction of the cost.
Murakoze (Thank You).