In this interview with TOFARATI IGE, the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of Afro100 Media, Samson Aluya, 26, talks about how he has weathered the storm in the publishing industry
Briefly tell us about yourself and what you do?
I am a graduate of Esperanza University in Benin Republic. I am a great lover of entrepreneurship, photography, music and entertainment in general. I have an immeasurable love for entertainment.
I started publishing Pop Shugar magazine, which is today known as Afro100 media, in February 2014, with the aim to entertain, educate and promote talented individuals on campus and its environs. I have published two editions of Pop Shugar magazine which is an urban youth and campus magazine and three editions of Pop Shugar newsletter which is published in French and English and it is free.
How did you get into the publishing business?
I actually started as a fashion designer in my first year in school. My fashion line then was called Shugar Clothing and I was making bags, clothes, necklaces and shoes in ankara fabrics to raise funds.
A lot of people accepted it, and I started getting calls from different parts of the country with several people requesting for my products. People were impressed with the jobs I did for them and I was making money. However, when the trend of ankara was fading out, I got the inspiration to publish a magazine.
Prior to that time, I had no experience and I didn’t know anyone in the business that could advise me. But I decided to give it a try and when I released the first edition of the magazine, it became the topic of the town and everyone was talking about Pop Shugar. A lot of copies were sold and I began to meet people, so I started building a team made up of great minds. I am proud of what we have been able to achieve so far.
How profitable is it to run your kind of business in this period of economic recession?
It is quite challenging because the naira is getting weaker by the day coupled with the fact that the cost of production and other services is getting higher.
What are the challenges that you encounter?
Initially, the challenge I faced was not having any idea about this business. I was majorly surrounded by students and I was not in my country. It was also difficult getting capital to start the business but I thank God things are getting better and more doors are opening.
How do you cope with funding challenges?
I always try to manage the little funds I get by denying myself of some things I should have. I also get support from my family and friends because they believe in the dream.
As a business owner, what principles guide your everyday operations?
I think the most encompassing principle is to have a positive mind, work vigorously on a plan, and when it fails, re-strategize.
Are there some instances when you feel like giving up?
I have never felt like giving up but there are times when it seems all one’s efforts are not appreciated or yielding result. I had been frustrated a lot of times but giving up has never been an option.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see Afro100 becoming a household name and the best media house out of Africa.
What more can the government and society do to encourage young entrepreneurs like you?
I think the first thing the government should start with is the steady supply of power which shouldn’t be a problem in the 21st century. This for me is a basic need. The amount of money we spend on power generation alone is repressing. If this is fixed, it would go a long way. The government should also empower young entrepreneurs because there are a lot of ideas in them that are dying because of no support.
How do you keep your business ahead of the competition?
This is quite a tough task but I think Africa has a lot to offer to the world. My university days in Benin Republic broadened my scope about business and opportunity. Afro100 is bilingual and reaches out to her clients and readers in the language they understand. We also teach our readers what they don’t know about other cultures.
What is the most important aspect of your business and why?
Honesty, reputation, and satisfaction
How do you treat your customers?
I treat them with respect and try as much as possible to satisfy them.
How many people do you employ?
Presently, there are 12 people working for Afro100 and they all have been wonderful. We also have other people who offer voluntary services to strengthen and improve the brand.
Do you think your business could do better if it was not located in Nigeria?
Perhaps, yes, but like I have said before, power supply is a 21st century basic need which is lacking in Nigeria but I don’t think any country in Africa has as much opportunities as Nigeria. The population is large and dominated by youths. I started the business in Benin Republic and it helped me to connect with the French speaking people. I just recently moved the business to Nigeria and the experience has been good so far.