Kenyan entrepreneurs, Dicky Hokie and Sitati Kituyi, launched AfricanStockPhoto, an Afrocentric stock photography marketplace, as a side project in 2015 before going public in February 2017. So far, the startup has amassed an active user base of 100 photographers across Africa, and buyers within and outside the continent.
The reason for the startup is simple; stock photography of Africa is rarely a representation of the true nature of the continent as it is sadly focused on certain stereotypes and narratives like wildlife, tribespeople, and poverty. This reflects poorly, not just on the continent, but also for advertisers and businesses in terms of sending the right message to and reaching their target audience.
AfricanStockPhoto features authentic African imagery, contributed by photographers across the continent. According to Hokie and Kituyi, Africa has no shortage of compelling visual stories and excellent photographers to tell them, hence they have created a space where those in need of authentic photos that correctly depicts day-to-day Africa can easily access and purchase them.
In setting up the business, the duo bootstrapped their savings, however, they were able to raise a US$50,000 pre-seed fund last November, allowing them to transition into full-time operation and focus on marketing and getting photographers. Still, more funding is needed to expand the startup, especially in growing the catalogues.
“The most exciting aspect of our business is working with photographers across the continent to build a rich, diverse collection of imagery. If we’re given US$1m to invest, we’d put that money towards working with talented studios and freelance photographers to document more day-to-day activities in the context of their home countries,” co-founder Kituyi said in an interview. Some months ago, the startup launched a bulk discount, subscription option in response to requests from buyers who want to purchase multiple images at a time.
Regarding risks and challenges, pricing happens to be a prime concern as pricing is very fluid in the stock media industry. According to Kituyi, images can be relatively cheap or expensive depending on the site and content. Therefore it’s hard to identify a price point that is of good value to both the photographer and the end customer. For every sale made, the startup retains a commission that ranges between 30 and 50 percent depending on the mode of payment in terms of frequency.
So far, sales on the platform are modest and far from profitable, but it does not seem an issue as the startup is mostly focused on growth at the moment. “We have seen a strong correlation between the increasing depth of our catalogue and increased conversion of visitors to customers, so we are confident that as we continue to grow our content database, we’ll continue to see an uptick in revenue,” Kituyi told Disrupt Africa.