“We say the entrepreneurial heart is born with you. Even from 14 years old I started my own small business. I realized there were no business cards in Senegal, so I started designing them. At first it was difficult for people to really take me seriously because I was only 14. So, I asked my older cousin to come with me and get the clients, then I was able to do my thing. We made 1 million CFA before I was 15.” – Ibuka Ndjoli
Now 25, Ibuka Ndjoli is the founder of 3 businesses with locations in Dakar, Abidjan, and Pointe Noir. Kusoma Group, Les Litterateurs, and Da Promoter Agency were all created to help people, something Ndjoli says is his barometer for success.
“For me success is when people find what you have done, useful. I think that Da Promoter Agency has been my most successful company so far, because it has helped many young Africans achieve their dreams.”
Ndjoli launched his first company, Da Promoter Agency, as a high school student, shortly after publishing his first book in Belgium. Despite the book having a lot of traction in Europe, he said he was disturbed that the book had never made it to Africa, especially since young Africans were his target audience. Ndjoli said he decided that an agency to promote other talented people, like himself on the continent was long over due. That’s when Da Promoter Agency took off.
“I realized there were plenty of young Africans who were also doing things with their lives and needed to be promoted but the methods of promotion and assistance was just left up to them. I was really into marketing, communications and IT. So I said if I could create an agency that would promote these young people and make it simpler for them to do what they do, that would be great. But I didn’t have a lot of means so I started small.”
Ndjoli bought a small camera and built a website where he promoted the talent he met. Today, his company promotes many successful artists, fashion designers, singers, and entrepreneurs from all across Africa.
“It’s not like I became an entrepreneur to avoid working for someone else, I became an entrepreneur because I enjoy helping others and exploring different ways to do it. To bring solutions to others, I think that’s the most important for me.”
The Kusoma Group, Ndjoli’s most recent company, launched in June 2015 but has quickly become known as the ‘Amazon of Africa’. Kusoma, means ‘read’ in Swahili, and allows young African authors to publish, promote, and make money off their work.
“Our idea of success for this is not to have everyone talking about Kusoma. It’s to get young African’s reading and to get African authors published. I want authors to say, ‘thanks to Kusoma, I was able to do this…’ It’s not just for the money.”
The platform hosts digital novels, biographies, essays, and graphic novels, with special orders for print editions available. Ndjoli says his company is not the first to offer these services but says, “we are the first to do this in a way that can appeal to Africans to purchase books in a way that is accessible to them.”
Customers can purchase e-books using local payment methods like Wari, Orange Money, Tigo Cash and Paypal. Ndjoli says this really helps local people, which is the key to his businesses.
“Our hope is to grow and start here. We want our people to benefit from our product first, then grow out from there and potentially expand to other continents.”
Ndjoli’s 3rd company, Les Litterateurs, or the writers, is focused on helping content creators by providing editing, writing, and design services for those looking to revamp their website or redesign their brand for local audiences.