Activate Summit: Bozza provides marketplace for new African talent

Emma Kaye, chief executive of Bozza. (Supplied)

Emma Kaye, chief executive of Bozza. (Supplied)

What’s your background, and what led you to Bozza? 
Being born in Zimbabwe and immersed in the creative industries from a child, I have always valued artists and what they contribute to society. Throughout my career as a serial entrepreneur, I have always put the creative industries at the centre of all that I have done. 

My first business was as the co-founder and chief executive of Triggerfish Animation, one of Africa’s leading animation companies. Triggerfish allowed me to understand the value of content; it can educate, entertain and engage audiences.
However, after 10 years in this role, it was clear that while Africa is a continent of storytelling and music and there is value in this content, traditional media only allowed for a few to have the privilege of this expression. To have a voice in the creative industry, an artist needs access to funds, broadcasters, radio, labels and more. Testament to this, Africa’s share of the global creative economy is less than 1%, which proves that while talent is universal, opportunities are not; enter Bozza.

What are Bozza’s goals?
Bozza is a technology platform that enables young African musicians, filmmakers and poets to connect with fans who want locally-relevant content via their mobile device, desktop and free-to-air satellite television. Trusted and transparent, Bozza is a marketplace for the next generation of African talent, unlocking the creative currency on the continent and catalysing positive social change at scale – turning access into economic participation for artists and pride for everyday African consumers.

You focus on providing content local to the user, which most other online platforms don’t provide. How successful has the strategy been so far?
In terms of our success, after two years of development, Bozza has a robust platform that allows any artist anywhere in Africa to upload any digital material whether it is film, music, text or pictures. We then ensure that this content is optimised and served to fans on whatever device they are using. As a mobile first company, we ensure that artists’ material can be consumed on more than 3 000 types of mobile devices, including feature phones. Audiences also have the option to use the desktop to discover new African artists.

Since August 2013, we have more than 1 100 artists from across Africa: Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal so far uploading their work and sharing with their fans. In launching a recent music service for South African users, we had  200 000 subscribers wanting locally relevant content. In short, our strategy has been a great success so far.

Is media consumption and online culture in Africa the same as in the rest of the world – or are there distinct differences?
The media consumption in Africa is primarily done through mobile devices, rather than a desktop or tablet. This is the main distinction which in turn impacts file size and time spent online due to the data costs.

What’s Bozza’s future, and do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
While Bozza continues to build the artist base from across Africa, we are also increasing the number of distribution channels to give the biggest possible reach for the artists. This includes not just mobile and desktop but also IPTV, internet radio, satellite TV and events.

Finally, what is your message for the delegates attending the Activate Johannesburg Summit?
Mobility has huge socio-economic, educational, commercial, societal and individual significance. Emerging economies have been hugely resourceful in using mobility in socio-economically important ways, to empower micro enterprises. By embracing mobility as a content delivery platform, emerging countries or continents can leapfrog developed economies, establishing a unique societal brand in a vibrant new industry. – Guardian 2014

Emma Kaye is a speaker at this year’s Activate Johannesburg Summit, June 26 2014. 

Apply for your free place.

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