With recent emergence of start-ups focusing on writing in Africa, it’d be safe to say that this culture is rapidly being taken up in the continent. All the way in Dakar, is Carvi Writer, a startup which allows users and authors to make money from their works. I think this startup addresses a problem as lots of writers would really love to earn something for their works.
TechMoran sits with Alimatou Diagne, founder of Carvi Writer as she shares a whole lot about the startup. What they do, why it was created, their growth so far, Seedstars Dakar experience, how they are being funded and many more are part of what are discussed in this interview. Enjoy.
Tell us what Carvi Writer really is.
Carvi Writer is the first platform selling writings and audiovisual productions in Africa. It allows young authors to self-publish their writings and to benefit from the transformation of these works into films, series, documentary etc. Carvi Writer is also in digital printing.
It is on the whole Carvi Global which is also composed of Carvi Food. This last is a company which produces and selles dried meat. It is also based in Senegal.
What was the propelling factor behind creating the startup?
It was created in 2014. It was born from a passion for writing. I’ve always liked to spread my creativity on paper from elementary school. In 2014, after graduating in Statistical Engineering, I embarked on my second entrepreneurial experience by creating Carvi Writer. At first it was just in order to share my writings but the more I went I realized that people were interested. I always wrote imagining how it would be in film and it was there that the idea came to open Carvi Writer to other horizons including audiovisual production. By the end of 2016, I started working full time on it.
Since launch, how well has Carvi Writer grown? (you could give actual stats here).
Since launch in 2014 Carvi Writer Has grown slowly till 2017 when I decided to quit my Job and work full time on my projects. It has about 3100 members and more than 14 000 book readings.
Tell us about your business model.
The company is making money through book sales, audiovisual production, advertising, services such as digital printing, proofreading, writing, book cover making. The revenues are in the order of $ 2,500 for now.
How is Carvi Writer currently funded?
Apart from the revenues that can be derived from the various products and services offered by Carvi Writer, I participated with this project in the Young African Leadership Initiative funded by Barack Obama. And I was also funded after winning the first prize in the women’s competition “Jiggen ci tic” organized by the Dakar Women’s Group. Carvi Writer is always looking for funding to expand its network and enlarge the team.
How do you feel pitching your startup at the Seedstars Dakar event?
I felt very honored to have been selected as a finalist for Seedstars Dakar. That was a great experience. It allows me to see Carvi Writer from another angle. Meeting also others entrepreneurs through networking was something great. I think that this kind of initiative must be promoted in Africa. Now I know that being a part of Seedstars community is going to have a great impact on the project.
Tell us about the team behind Carvi Writer.
Since March 2017, the team has expanded and is composed today of myself, Omar Sidibé, representative in Mali and Molly Ndrin representative in Ivory Coast. We are all writers. This year, we are working on the Digital Marketing strategy and ways to deploy it.
Share your honest view about writing habits in Africa. Impressive?
People are writing in Africa but there is a huge problem there: they don’t take it seriously. They usually think that it is impossible for them to earn money writing and to have a career in that field. And that is the reason why it is still difficult to make them accept the concept.
In 5 years, how big do you envisage Carvi Writer?
In 5 years, I see Carvi Writer as the number one enterprise of audiovisual production and books publishing in Africa. I’m aware that it won’t be easy but I believe it. I also see myself achieving a certain autonomy and automated organization.
In one or two words, tell us what you think is the most important factor in building a startup.
For me, the most important factor in building a startup is firstly to be ambitious and to keep persevering. An entrepreneur has to take initiatives and stop complaining. There will be obstacles sometimes but whatever it is we have to keep moving and take decisions quickly.