Africa's music and sports icons are forging a tech-sports fusion through investments

Africa's music and sports icons are forging a tech-sports fusion through investments

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#investments
#funding
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#entertainment
#music
A growing number of African music and sports celebrities are leveraging their global networks, local knowledge and high incomes to drive investments in the African tech and sports sectors. Their activity could draw more funds to Africa.

Bonface Orucho, bird story agency


Africa's music and football luminaries are increasingly channelling their resources towards the continent's tech startups, utilizing their wealth and expansive global networks to secure their futures while fostering community-level social change. Nigerian musician and businessman Oluwatosin Ajibade, also known as Mr. Eazi, is widely recognised as a master of this new trend.


In a December 2023 appearance on the podcast Silverbacks Valley, Ajibade explained how the intersection of music, technology and entrepreneurship had landed in his favour.


“Music has given me access to networks and finances, but I've never really left technology and entrepreneurship because that's what I've always been,” he stated.


With over four million monthly listeners on Spotify and his music amassing over 1.5 billion streams on the platform, Ajibade's influence in the Afropop genre is indisputable. Collaborations with global icons like Beyoncé, Bad Bunny, and Nicki Minaj have solidified his position on the international music scene. His collaboration with J Balvin on 'Arcoíris', on the Colombian reggaeton artist's album 'Colores' earned him a Latin Grammy award in 2023.


However, Ajibade's impact transcends the realm of music. He is strategically channelling investments into Africa's tech startup and sports sectors, exemplifying how African art and sports elites can leverage their prominence for economic growth and social development.


From gaming apps and a betting company to owning a football club and sponsoring the Ghana Premier League, the Nigerian star offers a prime example of how African art and sports elites can build businesses in Africa, whether in sports or other sectors.


Last year, Ajibade bought into the Cape Town Tigers, according to THEWILL News, a US-Nigerian platform and newspaper.


In another investment in African basketball, betPawa, his sports tech company, agreed in August 2023 to become the official sponsor of Rwanda’s national basketball league.


In football, Ajibade’s ChopLife Gaming, a game development company, has an active partnership with Rayon Sports, one of the top Rwandese soccer teams. The duo penned the partnership deal in June 2023.


betPawa also invested US$6 million in the Ghana Premier League via a three-year sponsorship deal beginning in 2022.


In Cameroon, Ajibade backs a foundation that trains more than 30 men and women boxers.


Beyond sports, Ajibade has engaged in tech startups by investing on the continent through his venture capital fund, Zagadat Capital, which he founded three years ago.


According to the Zagadat website, the fund’s portfolio includes startups in different industries, including Eden Life Inc., a hospitality company that outsources services such as cooking, cleaning and laundry.


Other ventures include emPawa Africa, a music platform for artists and music producers, pawaPay, a fintech and payments platform and Decagon, a company that trains engineers in Nigeria and pairs them with employers from Europe and beyond.

 

At the June 2023 Latitude59 tech conference in Estonia, Ajibade explained that with 10 million young people graduating from Africa's colleges and universities annually, the right training can “convert Africa into one of the highest net exporters of tech talent.”


Ajibade is hardly alone when it comes to successful artists and sports professionals developing the continent’s tech ecosystem, however.


According to TechCrunch, South African DJ Nkosinathi Maphumulo, or Black Coffee, is also an active investor in tech startups, using his venture capital company, FlightMode Digital. Pitchbook.com shows FlightMode Digital was founded in 2017 and has 7 investments, including in Gallo Records, Andela, and Rensource, among others.


Nigeria-based music artist Ajebutter 22, whose real name is Akitoye Balogun, is also leveraging his own experience at Gamsole, a gaming startup, and Cisco, to drive investments in tech startups.


According to Techcrunch, Balogun has active investments in AltSchool, a talent-matching platform, and Nestcoin, an Africa-focused web3 startup. Last month, AltSchool Africa expanded operations in Kenya in a bid to revamp its presence in the region. 


Other Nigerian artists, such as Falz and Davido, have been involved in funding tech startups on the continent.


According to Weetracker, just a few of the big names in sports making similar moves include, “Asisat Oshoala (LifeBank), Odion Ighalo (PropertyPro), Rudzani Ramudzuli (RRR Rams Holdings), Wilfred Ndidi (Fanbants), Victor Wanyama (M-KOPA and Sendy), Sadio Mane (Wave and Basita), and Samuel Eto’o (L’Appartement 17), among others.”


Early this month, Ghanaian-Dutch footballer, Jeremie Frimpong, led a US $316,000 (£250,000) pre-seed fundraiser for Remotelli, a Ghanaian tech talent platform. 


African musicians and sports personalities, while earning large amounts of money internationally, also know the African financial environments they are investing in, intimately - a big advantage over foreign-owned investment funds, and a solid basis for early investing, according to experts.


“The fact that there is modest activity from some of them is already a good sign,” Arnold Ashibende, a Kenyan economist, explained.


They're also investing for the long run and as a result, are more immune to the huge ups and downs that characterise emerging economies like Africa's.


“The two are indeed a vital group that can turn things around for Africa’s tech startup, which has not been performing optimally lately,” Ashibende added in a phone interview with bird.


bird story agency 


Useful links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcLwapzp8as

https://techcrunch.com/2022/07/13/mr-eazi-black-coffee-and-ajebutter22-the-african-music-artists-backing-startups/

https://weetracker.com/2024/02/08/ghana-hrtech-remoteli-315k-fundraise/

https://weetracker.com/2023/06/27/african-music-sports-celebs-fund-startups/

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