I wrote last week about Mambe Churchill Nanje and his work with Village Diary in Cameroon. But Village Diary is not Churchill’s whole story. The other part is his company Afrovisiongroup.com and the company he was keeping when we met up for a Malta and some Castels. Photo: Churchill and Steveslil.
AfroVisioN is Churchill’s IT firm, based out of Buea, Cameroon. AfroVisioN helps local businesses build their on-line presence, and aims to help Cameroon in general realize the potential of the web. “I was in the process of trying to get a nice paying job in IT, and someone told me: ‘Don’t get a job, create jobs instead!’ so that’s what I set out to do. I wanted to show people in Cameroon that there is more online than email.”
AfroVisioN invests in research and development to cut down costs of technology to serve the local markets. They provide affordable websites and web solutions, building software packages and automated operations to facilitate management and efficiency.
Although he can’t be more than 24 years old, this is not Churchill’s first venture. In 2006, at age 20 he invested all his time and money in building up a portal to allow students to see their GCE scores online. He purchased the GCE scores from the GCE board and published them for free on a site called passgce.com. The site was promptly shut down by the GCE board. Churchill recognized that there are potential disadvantages to having the scores on the internet (an error in programming logic could show the wrong results or someone could hack into the system and change the results), but that these are easily overcome with standard security measures. He’s sure the site was closed for other reasons. “Imagine building all your hopes on something and it gets shut down….”
Not one to give up, Churchill moved on to doing small IT projects that led him to his current business model at AfroVisioN. “Our market and its people don’t have huge financial backings, but they need technology in order to make their businesses more profitable,” so the business model builds on making a web presence affordable.
But Churchill’s goal doesn’t end there. “I kept wondering, why am I exporting software and my schoolmates and family are exporting cocoa… and not earning any money through their hard work.” So Churchill’s broader goal is to make a name for himself, to earn trust and credibility so that he can attract investment to help others to progress. In addition, he’s looking for ways that IT, especially internet, can be used to gain access to information to improve farms and local businesses so that they can earn more.
As we sipped our drinks and then rode in a crowded taxi from one side of town to the other, Churchill’s friends Steveslil and Peter also talked about their aspirations. Photo: Steveslil, Peter and Churchill.
Steveslil is an up and coming R&B singer – check out his website (powered by AfroVisioN) athttp://www.steveslil.com/flashsite.swf. He was appointed CEO of CoreSouth Records in 2005 and put out his debut album “Play my Tambourine,” fostered by Churchill, who also directed 2 of Steveslil’s videos. Steveslil is now on the BEI (Bebum Entertainment Industry) label out of Washington DC, founded in 2002 by Cameroonian-American businessman Esapa Sebastien.
Peter (@foch4T) studied at university with Churchill and they currently call on each other when there is work to be done on websites or other IT projects. Peter’s dream is to start a tour company to bring people to Cameroon. “Cameroon is the center of the world. It’s the heart of Africa. Here you have every climate, every type of thing that can be found in Africa, but all in one place.” Peter wants to bring people to Cameroon to experience the country’s beauty and culture in the most real way possible, giving them custom made tours.
Some impressive guys, to say the least. And to me, it was most heartening that not one of them talked about wanting to leave Cameroon to try to succeed elsewhere, but rather building up their country’s own potential and their own people.