Her interview with Africa Business Communities:
Would you please introduce ReAfrica?
ReAfrica is a platform that showcases the personal and professional achievements of people of African descent across the globe. We celebrate the vibrant culture, advancements in business, innovation and technology. We do this through our website, bi monthly magazine and social media channels. Our goal is to present a more positive narrative of Africa, to provide our readers with a means to engage visually with the continent and its people.
In which industries does ReAfrica operate and who are your clients?
We are primarily a media company, online and digital publishing. We also run some live events as part of the brand – creating an interactive experience of Africa where people enjoy the food, music and culture.
What are the USP’s of your business?
We set out from the beginning to create an interactive experience. Therefore with our magazine, we knew that print would not deliver the results we needed, we wanted our readers and website visitors to see, feel, hear – really engage with the content. Unlike other magazines that started out with print and now offer digital elements, we provide a fully interactive experience.
Why did you start ReAfrica?
I had returned to Nigeria a few years ago, having been away for about 10 years. When I got there, I found myself taken aback by some of the changes and advancements that I saw. Then my second thought was to wonder why I was shocked, knowing how industrious and entrepreneurial we are as people. I soon came to realise that my surprise was because I had become desensitized to the images that I saw regularly back home in the UK. There was nothing that I saw which matched the reality that I was seeing…. the use of mobile technology, the businesses, the innovation, fashion and music, so much was happening! I felt that I wanted to create a platform that was accessible, available to the typical African especially those in the Diaspora – to remind them where they came from and to the non African to see that there was indeed more than war, poverty and corruption.
What did you do before starting ReAfrica?
I have been an entrepreneur at heart from a young age. I got my first ‘freelance job’, working as a babysitter when I was 10 years old – earning $10 an hour. Never mind that the children I was looking after were only a few years younger than me. I looked like I was much older! I also at the time enjoyed baking. It was at that time that I understood the idea of making a product and getting immediate feedback from my ‘clients’. I didn’t charge, but I did get compensated. I have also had forays into retail during my student and early career days, selling ladies fashion.
What other companies/organizations/activities have you founded?
I currently own a leadership coaching business, Julianmiles Limited, which I started 9 years ago providing leadership, business and personal coaching to clients in different industries including Education, Private and Public Service. My background before that was in Education and I spent a few years in Banking also.
You’ve lived many years in the diaspora. From that perspective, what in your opinion is most striking about doing business in Nigeria?
Africa is an incredibly innovative and nimble environment. I use the word nimble to describe the agility you often find in the African business environment. If you have a product or service that people want, you just get on with providing it. You don’t write a 20 page document first.
Now obviously I realise that you need a plan to run a successful scalable business, but I enjoy that sense of ‘let’s do this’ that you experience there. The best part about doing business in Africa is when you see the innovation that comes out of an environment where things don’t always work and infrastructure is sorely lacking, yet a product or service is developed and it solves a need. To me that’s pure genius.
Do you think women entrepreneurs typically have a harder time accessing loans through traditional bank channels?
I think this is the case, yes, but it is not always for the obvious reason that they are women. Sometimes it is because of a lack of confidence, lack of information and a well structured proposal. We as women would benefit from learning how to give our plan the best possible advantage whereby all requirements are not only met but exceed the expectation of the officers looking at the loan. Women could also do with looking for more traditional means of accessing finance and be willing to do whatever it takes to bring their dreams to fruition.
What can you say about the plans and ambitions of ReAfrica for the rest of 2015?
We are coming to the end of 2015 of course so really we are planning for the New Year now. We are launching our digital magazine app and are working towards engagement within the UK and USA.
Do you believe Social Media and the Internet to be a plus to the business environment, as it applies to your industry?
Our business model relies heavily on social media and the Internet. We have a website, a digital magazine app and several social media channels, all of which requires that we engage with our audience through these mediums. Our target market is a demographic that is digitally conscious and uses social media and the Internet on a regular basis. They engage with the world through the Internet, they are the socially conscious hyper connected generation and it’s important to be right in the midst of their world!
Source: African Business Communities