Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if everyone knew each other’s reality? Africa especially has suffered a slew of derogatory misconceptions about its heritage and people. Instead of grumbling and gnashing her teeth in irritation, Jullianne Obonyo took the first step to ensure the globe has a clearer, truer and more positive view of the African continent with her start-up venture, Afrikan Mbiu. The 24 year old studied Computer Science in university but realized she had no passion for it. Her brother encouraged her to start a blog about fashion and 1 year later, she now owns a Media Digital Company. In an exclusive interview with Inspire Afrika, this is what the outgoing Jullianne had to say.
Inspire Afrika: What is Afrikan Mbiu and what is your role in it?
Julianne Obonyo: Afrikan Mbiu is a digital media company that specializes in telling the African story from an African perspective. It’s a way to show the world that Africa is a beautiful place and not the horrid picture that has been painted for the rest of the world to see. The company was started by my brother Clement and I in 2014. What started out as a blog for fashion and music turned out to be an online magazine and website that feature coverage of African fashion, art, music, lifestyle and cuisine. I am the Head of content for the website.
IA: How did you come up with the name Afrikan Mbiu?
J.O: My brother Clement is the one who coined the term. ‘Mbiu’ means horn in Swahili. Traditionally, Africans would use the horn to call everyone in the village to gather in order to hear the latest news. Therefore, Afrikan Mbiu is a call to the world to come and see what Africa is doing culturally and socially.
IA: How was it starting a business in modern day Nairobi?
J.O: It was very easy. I am happy to say that these days many people are starting their own businesses and so the process has been simplified. I think this speaks well for the future of Kenya and the continent at large.
IA: What challenges have you faced?
J.O: Aside from the usual financial constraints, we found it very difficult to break into the entertainment industry in Kenya. They are a very closed off group and only interact among themselves. However, over time we have been able to wiggle our way in and make a name for ourselves.
IA: Snapchat is currently running a feature where they randomly pick cities and the citizens of that city are to post snaps (videos and pictures) of their city that can be viewed all over the world. It was recently Nairobi’s turn (one of the first cities in Africa) and there was a very unpleasant reaction toward it. What do you think about the whole fiasco?
J.O: I was shocked at what the world had to say about Nairobi! People said all sorts of horrible things about the living conditions of Kenyans, some even going as far as to say they didn’t know that we have access to Snapchat and that they wouldn’t want to visit our beautiful country. This gives me a stronger conviction that Afrikan Mbiu is very relevant in today’s world. Hopefully we can change perspective on the African continent and showcase it in a positive light.
IA: What next for Afrikan Mbiu?
JO: In the one year it has been active, Afrikan Mbiu has improved by leaps and bounds, but we don’t intend to stop here. In about a month we are launching MbiuTV where we will be showcasing Africa at its best through talk shows on YouTube. We currently have partnerships with different companies for example, The Kenya Fashion Awards, but hope to get more and more people interested in what we do enough to support us.
You can catch the latest in African news on their website http://www.afrikanmbiu.com/ follow them on Twitter at @AfrikanMbiu, and Facebook at Afrikan Mbiu.