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Can Fashion be a vector for development in a very poor country?

Alphadi believed so 15 years ago when he founded the International Festival of African Fashion (Fima) in Niger, the country at the bottom of the list in the UN’s 2014 Human Developement Report. The first edition of this festival took place in Agadez in the open air of the Sahara desert. The 9th and last edition of the most important cultural event in Niger took place in a secure area of the country’s capital, Niamey. The reason for this unglamourous change is recent terrorist activity, including the kidnapping of 4 French men by a branch of Al Queda. Local police and the national army made special efforts to avoid any setbacks during this edition. 

Due to the growing islamization of the country this festival is seen by some sectors of society in Niger as morally unacceptable. On the other hand, Alphadi supporters believe that this fashion festival makes people from all over the world come to visit Niger and thus get to know this “forgotten” country and, above all, offers a unique platform to local people such as young models, designers and other related professions. "Creativity for Peace and development in Africa" is its motto.

2015 FIMA edition has been cancelled at the last minute for security reasons.


Miriam (16) and Nadia (14) are sisters and share the same dream: to become a top model.

They were born and live in Niger, which was ranked the last country in the 2013 Human development report by the United Nations. They come from a middle class African family. They study at an Evangelist private school and would like to go to the University. Modelling for them could be just a hobby but Miriam takes it very seriously since she was a little girl.  Nadia, on the other hand, was never too interested in modelling but due to the interest she has awakened in the local industry and the people around her, she is taking the possibility of a model career more seriously. 
The International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA), founded by Alphadi, is the only platform that exists in Niger to start a model career and it is where they are taking their first steps into this world.


Ahoua is a 23-year-old girl who started modelling 4 years ago. She is from Niger, which is ranked the last country in the 2013 Human Development Report of the United Nations. She has modelled for the second time at the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) in Niger, which is the only fashion event in the country.

Ahoua makes her living modelling in different African fashion festivals and also working as a PP.RR in a disco called Diams, run by a Lebanese. She is the girlfriend of a French officer of the French Army that supports the Niger Army. She's not a prostitute.

Niger is also facing a growing islamization in recent years. In daytime, a woman cannot dress in miniskirt, for instance. She also has to cover her hair. She may be insulted or even attacked if she does not. Thus, Ahoua, has two lifes.