Ghafla, Kenya’s entertainment site has successfully expanded nto Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria in a pan-African expansion move to become Africa’s TMZ, after a botched acquisition by Ringier Africa Digital Publishing.
According to Samuel Majani, Ghafla founder and CEO, Ghafla expanded into this markets due to the fact that they are the largest English speaking economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and the populations have a strong and growing purchasing power too.
Though he didn’t mention numbers, Majani told us that Ghafla is already revenue positive in all these countries.
“It was good because I realized the potential of the business and got out of my comfort zone after the deal crumbled,” he told TechMoran adding that Ghafla has not lost its mojo as some people in new media entrepreneurship think. “I would say this is not true. Perhaps it’s because we are now putting most of our efforts outside Kenya that you feel this way, but if you were to look at our international expansion efforts you can see the growth.”
Majani says Ghafla’s pan-African strategy has separated them from the rest of the pack as there are very few people pursuing such a bold pan-African expansion. Though Ghafla is making money in these new markets already, he says there are no plans for Ghafla Radio or Ghafla TV? or Ghafla TV or radio shows. At the moment, his target is one-having a presence in every African country possible. Ghafla is also not raising any money for expansion.
“I think for now we should discard the thinking of raising money from VCs to build a startup and eventually sell to some other tech giant out there. Instead African tech entrepreneurs focusing on building companies that grow independently to become the giants of their sector,” he told TechMoran.
Back home, Majani says he’s amazed by the way fintech is growing in leaps and bounds. Kenya’s mobile money ecosystem is a wonder of the world of technology. However, on blockchain he thinks it will go the way of torrents where it is an interesting technology, but complexity and legal issues limit it.
Majani is also a bit disappointed by some Kenyan startup entrepreneurs for not taking on terrifyingly ambitious startup ideas.
“It saddens me that the biggest startups in the African ecosystem are mostly run by expatriates who don’t even set up the company to be a local entity,” he said. “This shows that 1. local entrepreneurs are not thinking big 2. investors are not trusting of local entrepreneurs to handle big projects. I hope stories like mine show that indeed Kenyan entrepreneurs are capable of doing the heavy lifting.”
To him the new markets have a lot of similarities and differences in each, the only way to find out is to dive in and see how the market responds. Ghafla has no exit plan for now but to be the largest entertainment news website in Africa.
Ringier is also expanding across the region, launching to every country Ghafla has but the entertainment market is huge. Using its Pulse brand, Ringier will miss out on the entertainment pie because of its mix with business, politics and other kinds of news. Ghafla’s focus is just celebrity gossip and entertainment news-loved mostly by university students and youthful executives in their first or second jobs.