Umuntu Media are working on a strategy to make publishing succeed in the digital age. They recently received $1m in funding from Netherlands-based venture capital fund eVentures Africa to expand their coverage to nine additional African countries.
Umuntu specialises in country-specific information portals. They currently run iNamibia and iZambia. The success of these sites has been due to the focus on truly local content."We want to be the one-stop content and information shop for our readers. So far we’ve established a news and entertainment section, and the largest database of accommodation establishments in Namibia and Zambia. We showcase the latest music and events, and have integrated a property and job board. All this information is locally produced to create relevance, as we believe it's the local content that counts," says founder and CEO Johan Nel.
Umuntu's revenue comes from three sources: they run traditional digital adverts on their sites, sell certain content - like games and SMSs – to users, and lease online shop fronts to local SMEs.
The tech community is a key focus to Umuntu, and reaching out to local bloggers is particularly important. Johan says, "We ask for their input, we make them a part of this and we include them before we launch. You need that awareness before you can enter a new market."
Johan has grand ambitions for the future: "We would like to be one of the most recognised media brands in Africa. We want to be the company that solved the African communications challenge. We want to be remembered as the guys who changed things, who built something for Africa from within Africa."
Johan advises entrepreneurs looking to follow in his and Umuntu's footsteps:"The key to the success of a startup is to always work towards your goal, but to be very agile about how you get there."
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