Adesua Okosun, daughter of late Sonny Okosun – singer, guitarist and composer well-known for his fusion of reggae, highlife, Afro-funk, traditional melodies and rhythms – just launched her media company.
My company – Young Africa Media is currently funding a sister company called “This Is Africa Productions.” Young Africa Media and This Is Africa Productions focuses on African stories and our goal is to become a creative media house that will produce high quality projects in film, music and animation.
How did you come up with the name of your business?
The name, ‘Young Africa Media‘ is influenced by freedom fighters of the past. People like Ojukwu, Fela Thomas Sankara and others, these people started a revolution at the ages of 27 to 30. They changed lives, fought against oppression, government, poverty and did so knowing that this might result in exile or death, but it did not stop them. ‘Young Africa Media‘ is about that revolution we once had. A revolution that had nothing to do with corruption but everything to do with giving every man and woman a chance to achieve their dreams and stand up for what is right.
Who inspired you to start this company?
I was lucky to have a father like Sonny Okosun. I saw someone who had nothing from his youth become a success until his death. My father was the only person I knew for a while who did what he loved and was happy pursuing his dreams. Later on after college, I began meeting more Africans like him. Their stories and the journey it took to get to where they are was so inspiring that I thought, wouldn’t it be great if everyone knew about these people. They are doctors who come from the slums of Lagos and now running the show at Johns Hopkins University hospital. People who never had a chance in Nigeria, Ghana, or Ethiopia and who are not only living their dreams, but are out there changing lives and motivating others everyday.
We Africans are so used to hearing the negative stories about ourselves that we in fact start to believe these stories. It is high time we also believe in the positive side of us. For instance in the United States, we Nigerians are among the most educated immigrant group. There are people out there in Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, who have no education in engineering or IT but can fix or build a car, can build and design computers. I want to promote the true image of Africans, the hardworking men and women who believe in the growth and the success of their people. History has shown that we are fighters. We fight for what we want and this is what we have been doing for centuries. I believe that we should continue to fight until the world accepts us for who we really are.
Who is your target market?
My focus is on people ages 21 to 35. I am choosing to work with this population because they are the future. This population I believe is easily influenced by the media. They are surrounded by technology every day; Not just that but I can easily reach out and stay connected with them.
How have you financed the idea?
I have financed this project with my money. I see Young Africa Media as “my baby.” I am willing to risk my finances to see it grow. Apart from the financial support from friends and family, the one thing that has made my project grow is the support that I receive from the people around me. Their support is way more important to me than the money. In the future, I hope to find investors willing and interested in producing entertainment content made by Africans for Africans.
What is your competitive edge? What sets you apart from your competitors?
One thing that sets me apart from other competitors is that I am not only showcasing the usual “celebrities,” I am glorifying the everyday man and woman, the local heroes of our community. Of course doing segments on musicians and actors would get me more attention, but I feel as though no one has ever really focused on the everyday people. If you look at BellaNaija for instance, the blog focuses on the everyday woman about to get married or engaged. If they only focused on celebrities, it would be another boring blog. Focusing on the average Joe is what makes me stand out. You do not have to be a WizKid, as long as you are doing something amazing with your passion, then I am there with my camera filming you.
What challenges do you face or have you faced thus far?
Initially, it was difficult for someone who has never been on camera to accept my invitation for an interview. Many people did not want to be interviewed. It took them a while to respond or accept my request. However, once I scheduled the first interview, it became easier to get more people to agree to be interviewed. Now my biggest challenge is to stay consistent and get more people to tell their stories. I notice that Africans like to hide a lot. It is a funny situation, its like we are brainwashed to the extent that even when we are doing something incredible, we still want to hide. I can never understand that concept. More of us need to step outside of our comfort zone and chase our dreams.
What key things have you learned since starting this idea?
- Believe in yourself. People can see the confidence and when they see it, they will follow suit.
- I am the leader of my life. No one can dictate my success for me. When you wait on people to get you to the success that you are seeking, you will be waiting a lifetime.
- Do not depend on others or blame them either.
- Lastly, I’ve learned that it is okay to make mistakes and bad investments.
What five (5) things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?
– Do it yourself, no matter how hard it is. It is crucial for people to see you doing it first before they will ever reach out to help you.
– The worst thing anyone can say to you is “No.” The word “No” is something I am used to. It should not stop anyone from reaching out or going after their dreams. Send that email, make that phone call, create that proposal. “No” is just a word, it does not mean that it is the final answer for your future.
– Do not only seek financial support; seek emotional and spiritual support. Sometimes that is all people have to offer and this type of support is what you will need when you get rejected over and over again. Those moments when you feel as though you cannot do it anymore, these “friends” or “supporters” will come in handy and their words or prayers will be the motivation you seek. Money is not everything.
– There is no such thing as a day off. Every chance you get to do something for your business, do it. Some of us are still working the usual 9 to 5 jobs to pay our bills while we try to build a business on the side. Use every spare time that you have from your regular job and work on your business. If it means that you need to send out an email or make a phone call, do it – it goes a long way.
– Pray or find time to talk to God. It might sound repetitive, but it has really changed my life. Taking 10 to 15 minutes of your day to say “thank you God” or to ask for patience, motivation, anything – It helps, it helps a lot. This is not about religion, it is about building a relationship with God while going through the entrepreneurial journey.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
My dad used to say to me, “it doesn’t hurt trying, what’s the worst that could happen?” That is the best advice I could give anyone, it never hurts trying. By trying you can work hard to make something out of nothing. You cannot just sit there and talk about your idea, you have to do what you need to do for your business.
How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
African youths need to believe in themselves first before helping others. You cannot show support to others when you do not even support your own dreams. Believe in yourself first, believe in your dreams, motivate yourself, so that you can motivate others. Not everyone is a leader, but everyone has a role to play in the world. Do not sit by and be idle to the problems of your country, wake up and do something.
How many jobs have you created so far?
I have created two (2) jobs since launching January 2015. I am currently seeking interns interested in film production and social media marketing. One of my goals is to provide jobs for animators, film editors, actors, musicians and producers.
How has technology enhanced your business idea?
Technology is a big addition to my project. I use various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and off course my website to promote my project. I am always on my computer looking for individuals to interview and I find people on Facebook or Instagram.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
We can support innovation in Africa by supporting the local mechanics, the local technicians who live down the street. These people are beyond intelligent; they are able to create products with the little available resources that they have. Also, African governments should provide opportunities, scholarships and a better education system. We Africans need to stop looking outside when it comes to innovation because we have so much talent but we are NOT utilizing it.
Website: Young Africa Media
Phone: (703) 731-0757
Email: adesuaokosun [at] gmail.com