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Exclusive Interview with Osita Oparaugo – Ogelle Founder

www.nigerianeyenewspaper.com-Osita-Oparaugo-Ogelle-Founder
www.nigerianeyenewspaper.com-Osita-Oparaugo-Ogelle-Founder

Please explain in more detail what the company does. 

Ogelle is an online video-sharing resource and entertainment platform for African content only. It is a user-generated content (UGC) and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform with Pan-African coverage in terms of diversity of content themes, content creation and representation in languages.

Ogelle’s content is 100 percent African, created by Africans for African and global consumption. The platform enables every African in Africa and or in the Diaspora to create, post, and share Africa-focused video content and monetize the same by views no matter their country of origin, cultural heritage or language.

For established filmmakers and studios, Ogelle offers an avenue to generate revenue from completed projects and commissioning of new projects.

Ogelle is also a resource centre for all Africans, both old and young, to learn those things that make Africans distinct and special. For example, you can learn how to cook any local African dish, dance those beautiful African dance steps, braid hair, and so on. Simply put, Ogelle is an online African community.

How/when was it formed? What is the team, etc?

I have a background in Law. In 2014 I founded Footprint to Africa as an investment company promoting investment opportunities in Africa to Africans and to foreign investors. As I moved around Africa with my team, we realized that Africa was not telling its story; that Africa is the world’s best kept secret in terms of content creation and distribution. 

This realisation led to the founding of Ogelle. Ogelle was launched in 2019, though development of the platform, assembling the right team, creation of exclusive content and leasing of content started late 2017 after I returned from the New York Film Academy.

Our team consists of media experts and strategists, industry insiders in content creation, acquisitions, distribution, film financing and production with extensive creative sector knowledge; men and women committed to creating indigenous and diverse content that speak to culture.

What gap in the market did you spot? 

I noticed that out of the top 10 user-generated content social networking platforms in the world, none is Africa-focused. This has made it impossible for Africans in Africa and in the diaspora to communicate with one another freely, share video content, promote, codify and integrate common cultural experiences, values, and art that cut across people of African descent no matter the language they may speak, and to showcase these content to Africans within Africa and in the diaspora, as well as lovers of African content spread across the globe.

Knowing that content shapes the world, the inability for Africans in Africa and in the diaspora to tell their stories themselves, to sing their songs and to dance their dance gave rise to a lot of misconceptions about Africa, lack of opportunities for the youth, and has hindered developmental growth mostly in the creative industry. 

Africa needs a platform that will become the mirror with which the world will see the true Africa, a platform that is dedicated to showcasing Africa’s rich heritage, values and creativity in all its vastness and dimensions as passed down from generation to generation. 

In light of the present global developments and a foreseeable cultural shift, there exists the need for a 100 percent African platform dedicated to African content only.

The African heritage is what marks us out distinctively from other human societies, and for so long, Africa has lacked one major resource and entertainment platform that is truly African. 

We believe that Ogelle will help every African find communities of support, create and share videos around shared beliefs, cultural values, and interests while helping those in the diaspora connect to their roots as well as providing a true African story for global lovers of African content.

What is the competition?

Honestly, we do not see any competition. We are focused on serving and closing that identified gap. We are focused on building an online African community where every African no matter where they may be will create their channel, post and share their videos no matter the language. We are focused on building an online African community for Africans to tell their stories themselves; a platform made by Africans for Africans; a platform every African will call home. 

On the user-generated content side of Ogelle, our competition may be YouTube and Facebook, but again, their content niche market is global and differs from ours that is solely Africa while content consumption mirrors globally. On the subscription video-on-demand side are Netflix, Irokotv and Swahiliflix, but very frankly, we are not bothered about competition.

We are certain that very soon, our message will become clearer and my people will understand, according to Allen Ginsberg, that whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture and that African content should remain on a pan African platform. 

How are you funded? Any other serious landmarks?

We started with funds from family and friends. We have enjoyed a lot of goodwill across Africa, especially among the media where many people have continued to promote us because they share in our dream and vision of building an online community for Africans.

We have equally attracted funding from African Discovery Group Inc. in New York who bought 10% of our platform. AFDG is a diversified, African-focused, business development company, with an extensive network spanning across 24 African countries, with its principal office based in New York, USA. The Company’s primary businesses include power, agriculture/sustainability, media, strategic minerals, and finance sectors on the African continent.  

We have concluded pre-production of 50 movies, 20 shows of 26 episodes each, 10 shows of 13 episodes each and 25 documentaries in English, Swahili and five other languages for the Ogelle Premium Launch in 2022. 

We are developing 1,008 hours of educational content covering six years of the post-primary education system, especially in English and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to support African youths. We believe that massifying STEM in Africa will in no small measure promote economic development and job creation amongst African youth. 

Our Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) course with revision is currently under production in New York with Professor Franki Kessler as the lead teacher and she is bringing over 17 years of teaching at the top level. 

With ‘Ogelle E-Learning; Education without walls for all Africa’, our platform will become that platform where African youths will come to learn, play and develop.

What has uptake been like?

In two years of operation, we have millions of users, more than 100,000 app downloads on iOS and Android combined, over 50,000 videos in English, Swahili and other African languages, a young and agile content creator ecosystem of about 68,900 creators and a 1.6 million database of content creators across Africa.

What markets are you operating in currently? Any expansion plans?

For content consumption, Ogelle is open and available worldwide through the web www.ogelle.comor our dedicated app from App Store or Google Play Store. In terms of creating original and exclusive content, we are currently working in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania with a support office in New York for Africans in the diaspora.     

We have a content aggregation network in 16 African countries with three regional heads in Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya overseeing their operations. We have offices in New York and campaign heads in London and China.

In our two years of operation, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have remained among the top 10 users on our platform. 

By the last quarter of 2021, we hope to open two more content creation and aggregation offices in South Africa and Morocco and an administration head office in California which ultimately will become the bridge between content creators, studios, content development and television houses in African and the world. We believe that this move will be highly beneficial to our goal and to the development of African content space.

How do you make money? What are revenues/profits like so far?

We are not making any money or profit at the moment. The platform will start taking ads from October 2021, and by January 2022 launch Ogelle Premium offering exclusive and original content at US$3.99 per month and US$39.99 per year including our e-learning portal.

What difficulties have you encountered in launching?

Initially, our biggest challenge was with some Africans who don’t have confidence in anything made in Africa due to colonial mentality, but as months go by and they see us moving from strength to strength by the grace of God, they start to believe. Trusting an African brand was a very big issue at the beginning for us. 

Having overcome that by staying on despite all odds for two years, we will not be surprised to wake up one morning and see one million people on Ogelle in one day. We are certain it will happen, and very soon too, as more Africans embrace our ideology from Cairo to Cape Town.

Intra-African movement for our team and high cost of internet for users are part of the challenges we face but as more and more African governments invest in infrastructure and telecom companies expand their operations throughout the continent, it strengthens our work and penetration.  

Ogelle is African!

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