Rwanda’s Sokkaa is an online soccer community specifically for African fans founded to give the fans EPL and European teams but in a variety of languages spoken across East Africa.
The Kigali-based Sokkaa has reporters who create news and match reports about influential teams such as Chelsea and Arsenal, but tailor the content to fans in East Africa, writing in English, French, Swahili and Kinyarwanda (their home language). They also plan to start a debate with funny soccer images and have just launched our YouTube channel Sokkaa TV.
Founded at the end of 2013 by Thom Harvey, a serial entrepreneur with a nuber of startups across food and tech industries in the UK and some consultancy work with SME’s and recently yfcrwanda.com – an online peace-building magazine for Never Again Rwanda. Sokkaa is uniquely African-focused.
TechMoran caught up with Harvey and this is what he told us.
What inspired you to launch Sokkaa.com?
On a previous business trip to Kigali, I went to a local bar to watch an EPL match and was enthralled by the passion the match generated. I met some young local guys and it turned out that they were budding reporters with a passion for EPL soccer. From this I decided built a beta site, which was originally called eplafrica.com, and asked them to start reporting in English and Kinyarwanda.
We began gaining traction and after a conversation with my friend Jason Njoku, a Nigerian internet entrepreneur and founder of iROKO, I decided to rebrand the site. With this, Sokkaa was born.What moved you to launch it with all the soccer sites around the world?
While there are other soccer sites around the world, we haven’t found any that specifically tailor their content to EPL fans in Africa. I have never seen such passion for soccer as I see in Africa, so I find this extraordinary.
Do you have any affiliations or partnerships or funding?
Sokkaa has an Angel investor based in the financial services industry in London. We are currently looking for affiliates – in particular for our coverage of the upcoming World Cup, and will aim to get VC funding towards the end of 2014.
How big is the Sokkaa team?
We are a small team of 10 at the moment, but growing everyday. We have an office in Kigali and headquarters in London.
Is there anything new you are going to offer readers apart from just news?
We have some exciting features that we aim to build around our key content but this is still in development – watch this space!
Where do you expect your business to be in 2 years?
We have grown exponentially since launch and so far we are still in beta stage without key features on the site – I expect us to be competing for the title of the most recognized football site in East Africa within the next year.
Any plans to expand into the entire continent?
Perhaps in the future – we have a long way to go until we are ready to take on the big boys in Nigeria and South Africa…in the words of Jose Mourinho “we are a little horse”.
Before Kigali, I had previously spent time in Lagos, and to compare the two cities would be impossible. Lagos was exciting but brutal – Kigali is much more user friendly!
I spend time in our Kigali office every 6 weeks or so and I love Rwanda. It has been a pleasure to work in, and every time I leave, I look forward to my return.
What is the future of soccer in your city?
Sokkaa is the future. We just want to tell those out there who want to startup to test ideas cheaply, know your context and listen to feedback.