Media Entrepreneur Starts Her Own Digital Platform To Smash Stereotypes About Africa
Diane Audrey Ngako was tired of seeing Africa continually portrayed in a negative light in the media, so in 20014 she created her own media platform, Visiter L’Afrique (Visit Africa).
The former social media editor of France’s famed daily newspaper, Le Monde, Ngako returned to her native Cameroon from France. Back home, she launcheed Visiter L’Afrique as a digital platform. Interactive and collaborative, the site is dedicated to African tourism and culture.
Ngako, 25, was born and raised in Douala, Cameroon, and left the country at the age of 12, living in both the U.S. and France. She started her journalism career as the chief editor of Roots Magazine, a French print publication dedicated to the African diaspora. Later she joined the staff at Le Monde and TV5 Monde, a global French TV network. Ngako earned a master’s degree in communication and media from a private French business school in Paris — the Institut Supérieur Européen de Formation par L’action.
After returning to Cameroon to start Visiter L’Afrique, she also launched a content agency called Omenkart.
Ngako told AFKInsider about her mission to smash stereotypes about Africa.
AFKInsider: Why did you decide to leave journalism?
Diane Audrey Ngako: I did not leave journalism, not really. I really love writing but I did not learn it in school. I studied mass communication, advertising. Writing was and still is the way that I prefer to share my thoughts, feelings and the way I see and understand society.
At Le Monde, my focus was on African culture and society. I left my journalism job in Paris because I wanted to open my creative agency, Omenkart, in Cameroon. You see, I wanted to share with people, learn from them.
AFKInsider: What prompted you to start Visiter L’Afrique in 2014 and a content agency Omenkart in 2015?
Diane Audrey Ngako: Even today, Africa is mainly represented by non-Africans via various forms of media. They usually talk about a sordid continent where only famine, wars, poverty, and other scourges happen. After numerous trips to different countries across Africa, one realizes that the continent has multiple sides: beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, warm and mostly welcoming people, a myriad of opportunities, and important challenges. It thus became obvious to create Visiter l’Afrique in order to depict a more objective view of the continent, by rethinking its image far from the usual stereotypes and without denying its problems. Visiter l’Afrique is all about putting forth Africa’s assets and opportunities.
Regarding, Omenkart, my creative agency, it’s a place where I create greatness. It’s our turn to change the narrative.
As an African, I feel like it’s a time for us to portray the Africa we know, the Africa we see. The Africa of our dreams.
AFKInsider: Why did you decide to go back to Cameroon?
Diane Audrey Ngako: For only one reason: Africa will not succeed without Africans.
AFKInsider: What is the business environment like in Cameroon for female entrepreneurs?
Diane Audrey Ngako: I don’t see myself as a female entrepreneur but as entrepreneur. I think it’s getting better, I guess. Since January 2017, for example, the paid-in minimum capital requirement used to be 1,000,000 XAF (Central African CFA Franc) or about $1,667 US and now it’s 100,000 ($167 US).
For myself, the problem was administration. The government requires tons of paperwork if you want to open your company and the paperwork is not centralized. You have to go everywhere in the city to file your documents. Also, when you are young like me, you have to create and develop your own network, which is very hard work.
The first year, we don’t have to pay taxes, like in France too, where I also have a company. But after that, the country takes 33 percent of your profits or 2.2 percent on turnover, whichever is higher.
The access of internet, too, is a challenge. (Cost for internet service is) one fifth of the rent for our office. But as an entrepreneur, you have to keep going, dreaming so we always find solutions to problems.
AFKInsider: Is there support from the government for small business?
Diane Audrey Ngako: Not really. You know when you’re small business, all you need is finance. But local banks don’t want to lend money to small businesses, meaning you can’t develop your project. You have to go to your family to raise funds.
AFKInsider: What are the positives of doing business in Cameroon?
Diane Audrey Ngako: For real, I don’t know. It’s tough. Cameroon is still a country in development.
AFKInsider: What has been your biggest business lesson?
Diane Audrey Ngako: You can’t build Rome if you don’t have people to help with the workload.
AFKInsider: What are your goals for 2017?
Diane Audrey Ngako: Publish the first book of Visiterlafrique.com. It is a personal investment. It will be in your hands as early as June. Then, open a café dedicated to culture in Douala (the largest city in Cameroon) and finally, develop my creative agency.
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