Many people drive through Surulere-a popular Local Government in Lagos state of Nigeria-but not many people conceive an idea while doing so. For Chioma Anyanwu, co-founder afroterminal.com, her drive through Surulere one fateful day, was the beginning of a worthwhile journey of establishing a social network for Africans.Years later, she began conceptualising the idea along with Charles Akpom, Afroterminal’s co-founder. Together they pooled their personal resources to fund afroterminal.com, consulting friends, family, Afroterminal members and industry trends for inspiration along the way. To fill skill gaps, they used a mixture of internal and outsourced resources to meet the needs of the business.
Today, Afroterminal is not just an idea. It was recognised earlier this year as one of Africa’s hottest technology startups by Forbes . It is also brimming with features to enable Africans to collaborate and is doing a good job of shining the light on what is bright about Africa. To mark the launch of its ‘Communities’ feature, Afroterminal has organised a ‘I Love Africa’ video competition where people get to submit videos detailing what they love about Africa.
Afroterminal has become a truly pan-African social network that connects Africans in diaspora and those within the continent and you can navigate to afroterminal.com to sign up. Like every other venture, Afroterminal has faced difficulties, but has evolved to become a choice social network for Africans everywhere. We got to ask Chioma Anyanwu a few questions and here is what she had to say:
SMW Lagos: Please tell us about the challenges you have had to face starting up and running Afroterminal and how you have tackled them.
Chioma (Afroterminal): Getting the technology right and continuously relevant is an on-going challenge – as it should be in any online business. From the start, this has been our focus and the only way around it is hard work and maintaining very good quality processes.
In addition, like most start-ups, we have had our difficulties. One of the challenges we’ve always faced is a time challenge – so much to do, so little time! In these instances, we have had to learn how to prioritise and make hard choices about what to focus on.
SMW Lagos: We are certain people would be very interested in knowing what exactly was the motivation behind starting afroterminal.com, seeing that there were a couple of other social networks when yours sprang up. Was it all about your value proposition or was there a business plan that assured you of success or was it a combination of both factors, or something else?
Chioma (Afroterminal): It was a combination of both. Ultimately, we are building an African brand – a network for Africans and by Africans. Moreover, many of the existing networks were set up to allow people keep in contact with old friends or are country/region specific. However, our focus is to allow Africans at home and abroad meet and make new friends, share and learn from each other. Therefore, we have quite a different proposition.
SMW Lagos: Finally, what are the imperative ways social media has helped grow your business and increase its profitability?
Chioma (Afroterminal): Well, Afroterminal.com is a social media platform, so that really is a self-fulfilling question. Social media is great because it is the modern equivalent of gaining new customers by word of mouth. It is a great way to grow. Specifically, our members invite hundreds of their friends, each day, to join them on afroterminal.com.
ChioMa Tanwa OkeReke (Ma’Reke) is the chief craftsman developing the concept of the ‘tyte’ student, so she writes and shares information to rouse and inform young minds. Find her at about.me/chiomatokereke and follow @thetytestudent on Twitter.