Originally published on True Africa by yours truly – November 23, 2015
To run a profitable business or startup, you need steady electricity, something most African countries lack. You need the internet if you work with technology… or are in 2015 with the rest of us.
You need a good transportation system, investors, a healthy financial system. You need a support system… people who don’t think you’re crazy for dreaming. Most importantly you need a market that’s flexible and open to new innovations.
African businesses have it tough!
Basic amenities like electricity and the internet are the biggest financial drain on capital. Building a million-dollar business in Africa is equivalent to a hundred-million-dollar business in the States. In Jay’s words in Empire State of Mind, ‘If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’
Here are five of Africa’s business outliers, compared with similar businesses in the States. Let’s imagine for a minute just how huge and global they could be if they weren’t in Africa.
Photo-sharing apps: Suba & Instagram
Suba (now shut down) is an event-based photo-sharing app developed by Ghanaian developers, Nelson Klutse and Eric Hackman. It is available on the web as well as iOS and Android platforms and allows users at social gatherings to see and share photos in one central album making the photos accessible and shareable by everyone attending the event in real-time. No more mass emails with numerous photo attachments or WhatsApp and BBM sharing, Suba solves the problem of gathering all your cute pictures taken with different phone cameras at events you attend.
Suba has been around since September 2014. They have won numerous awards; received cash injections from international investors; and have been marketing through events and partnerships. But Suba is still yet to reach critical mass or gain continental acclaim. With traction of over 15,000 users, Suba is a product with all the potential of what Instagram already is.
Compared to Instagram…
Instagram was created in 2010 and purchased by Facebook in 2012 for US$1 billion. With over 400 million monthly active users, Instagram boasts 80 million photos shared every day and over 40 billion shared overall. That’s a lot of daily photo sharing! If you’re wondering who’s using Instagram (and not Suba), we’ve got the answer. Twenty-four per cent of the entire adult population and 59 per cent of those users use the app daily. Instagram has more users than Twitter at the moment and is worth over US$35 billion. This just proves how big the market of sharing photos really is.
Media distribution: Irokotv & Netflix
iROKOtv, the world’s largest digital distributor of African movies, began operations in 2010, and now has branches in Lagos, Johannesburg, New York and London.
While Netflix is changing Hollywood and the US, iROKOtv is making sure Nollywood won’t ever be the same again.
iROKOtv is a hugely successful company by any standard. It runs on a subscription model and has raised over US$25 million total in venture capital, making it one of the most heavily funded West African internet companies to date. The company’s audience is predominantly in other continents, with top five countries including the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Italy, because Africa’s internet speed is still comparatively slow.
The portal has over 5,000 movies presently, which equals an estimated 10,000 hours of content.
Compared to Netflix…
Netflix started its subscription-based service in 1999. They were offering about 100,000 movie titles, and catering to over 10 million subscribers by 2009. The company runs on a subscription revenue model, just like iRokotv.
And as of October 2015, Netflix reported 69 million subscribers worldwide, with more than 43 million subscribers coming from the United States alone. Netflix’s market value now stands at US$32.9 billion.
Blogs: Linda Ikeji & Huffington Post (Arianna Huffington)
Question: How do HuffPost and Linda Ikeji manage to corner and control massive site traffic and publish some of the most viral articles on the Internet?
Answer: Because they are go-getting business minds with laser-focused goals.