The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.
Jason Chukwuma Njoku is a British-Nigerian entrepreneur and founder of iROKOtv, a video platform based in Lagos. iROKOtv is the world’s largest, legal online distributor of Nollywood films, with a library of over 5,000 movies. Jason tells us about moving back to Lagos in 2005, and what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur in Africa today.
What has been one of the hardest obstacles working in Africa and how did you overcome it?
Most of obstacles in Africa are logistical. Try running an internet company without internet and having to jump on a plane back to London with hard drives, just so you can upload video content onto your video platform. However, logistics are almost always solvable, in time and with money.
The market is new and there’s no-one trying to attempt what we are doing, so we have to make our own mistakes.
The biggest challenge for us has been the fact that there are no blueprints to work from on what we’re trying to achieve. Africa is still, in many ways, virgin territory. Video on demand in Africa is in its infancy. The market is new and there’s no one trying to attempt what we are doing, so we have to make our own mistakes and figure out market challenges ourselves.
You tried to started iROKOtv in London but realised you had to be on the ground in Nigeria. Can you have a successful business in Africa whilst not being there?
We could not have launched the business without being on the ground in Nigeria, Lagos more specifically. Dealing with the film producers and Alaba marketeers was only ever going to be done face to face, especially in the early days.
As the company grew, so did we and we extended our reach to include spaces outside of Africa, notably New York and London with their large African communities.
Each business is different, though, but I would say as a rule of thumb it is difficult to run an Africa-centric business with a predominantly African audience or consumer base, without having a base there. You need to know your audience and it’s difficult to do that without fully immersing yourself in it.
Who’s your African of the year?
Strive Masiyiwa. What he is doing at Econet is striking. He is building a real African telecommunications powerhouse that is the future of communication for the continent. That, alongside his incredible philanthropic work is the reason he’s my African of the year.
Follow iROKOtv on Twitter @irokotv
Find out more about iROKOtv at irokotv.com
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica