This video was done in September 2010, but it’s about the only video I could locate online that talks about the entrepreneurship story of Uche Eze, founder and managing director of Bella Naija.
Isha Sesay: Uche, thanks so much for sitting down with CNN. Let’s talk about your website, Bella Naija. In your own words, describe it for me, what is it?
Uche Eze: BellaNaija.com is what I would call … an entertainment, lifestyle and fashion portal. It is for the young, cosmopolitan, upwardly mobile African.
Isha Sesay: Where did the idea come from? Is it your idea?
Uche Eze: Oh, I’d say it started out as my idea. So … em … about four years ago, I had just graduated from University. I went to University in Canada. I had em … about two weeks off before I started my first job, and I was just bored. And I’ve always loved Nigeria, loved Africa … like while I was away at school, I would come back every holiday. And each time I came back, I saw how much everything had grown. So, the fashion was more vibrant; the entertainment was more vibrant; more young people were being involved in politics and business; and it was just so encouraging. So, I was like, do you know what? Let me just start something that sort of represent that. And genuinely, it’s just growing leaps and bounds, you understand?
Isha Sesay: So, how popular is it? How many page views do you get per month?
Uche Eze: We … Yea, you know we get over a million (Isha Sesay intruded: You get over a million page views per month) … yea, page views per month, and it’s growing so much. And it’s worth noting that when we first started, a lot of our views were coming from the US and UK … so a lot of people in diaspora … but now, Nigeria is actually number 1 on our list. So, it shows that a lot of people within the continent, more people have internet access; more people are interested in what’s going on around them. And, we also get a lot of hits from around the continent. So, South Africa, Ghana and some of the other African countries will be in our top ten.
Isha Sesay: Are you making money out of it yet?
Uche Eze: Commercializing and monetizing on the Internet is really difficult, but we see it as a step into a much bigger picture. So, we are … you know, we are breaking even. We are building before us … it is just a first step into something much larger.
Isha Sesay: So, what about politically? Because, I have noticed that … certain among the politicians … they are trying to take advantage of … of what it represents … so, the doors that could open. What are your views on that?
Uche Eze: Well, I’ve been so impressed with the … em … social activitism that has taken place by the social networks. So, we had this Enough is Enough movement that started on Twitter, that really … you know, it got the buzz going, and it got people saying ‘okay, this is what we want to do’. That was relating to the power situation in the country.
Isha Sesay: And Enough is Enough, what was it? … an initiative? Was it a rally point?
Uche Eze: Yes, it was basically an initiative to kind of rally up Nigerians to kind of em … get the government to step things up with the power situation. I know you’ve been in Nigeria for a couple of days, but it’s unfortunate that at this stage in Nigeria’s life cycle … we are 50 … we still don’t have constant power supply. And this affects every facet of life. As a young business owner, believe me! 80% of my cost … Power. You know, you have to have alternative energy like a generator. So, those kinds of things have really pushed a lot of people to the wall. And, we are like, do you know what? We have to do something about it. And they started this movement on Twitter; so, more people started talking about it. A few politicians note it; they did a couple of rallies … they did a couple of music videos. At least, they made their voices heard, and it shows that, okay, we can all come together. We might not be able to meet up in a town hall somewhere but via Twitter, via Facebook, via BellaNaija, we can, you know, we can come together, and we can make a change.
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