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African social media platform takes on Facebook, YouTube

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Joseph Onyero, founder and CEO of Bebuzee.
Joseph Onyero, founder and CEO of Bebuzee.

African-targeted social media platform Bebuzee is working on expanding its content offerings after garnering 16 million users across the continent.

Developed by UK-based, Nigerian-born innovator and entrepreneur Joseph Onyero in 2012, Bebuzee says its vision is to change the landscape of social media, by offering users a variety of products that go beyond the usual functions offered by other social media platforms.

As well as providing a platform that allows users to perform standard functions such as adding photos, videos and writing blogs, Bebuzee says its free video content service offers users a variety of African-focused content across genres such as movies, documentaries, series and talk shows which have not been posted anywhere else.

The social media platform has partnerships with over 50 Nollywood producers who grant it exclusive rights for users to view newly launched content for a limited period of time before it launches publicly.

As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms globally, Bebuzee says it is engaging production companies from other countries, including SA, to create an ecosystem of entertainment content providers to create localised exclusive videos which are longer and more in-depth than YouTube videos.

“Bebuzee is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world at the moment. Our 16 million users are predominantly based in Nigeria, SA, Uganda and Kenya, while the rest of the countries all make up a smaller percentage,” explains Onyero, who is also CEO of Bebuzee.

“Our vision is to become a premiere supplier of entertainment and information on the continent, and service users with their favourite content at no cost. When adding professionally-produced videos, we obtain a set target audience and a marketing platform. We are now expanding our server capacity dramatically, as we plan on adding country-specific content to increase the attractiveness of our offerings.”

The contractual agreement signed with production companies provides for a fixed advance and fixed royalty split for producers, based on advertising revenues received by Bebuzee, he adds.

Bebuzee has six employees, with offices in the UK, US, Ireland and Malta. The company is in the process of adding more employees and offices in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.

In 2005, Onyero created features and digital components of what was later to become the Bebuzee suite of products, including online features for Bebuzee’s property-focused subsidiary Properbuz – an online-based real estate start-up.

In May 2012, he started building Bebuzee and Properbuz for commercial use, using his knowledge and components developed during the previous years, and running proof-of-concept models.

Bebuzee says while its content offerings have generated huge interest from users, including some in the US and UK, it is currently not at profit-making stage.

“Revenues are small at the present time, as we deliberately did not initially include advertising on the platform in order to focus on growing our user-base and the infrastructure.

As we embark on further expansion, we believe our new offerings will expose us to well over 100 million users when completely rolled out at the end of this year – and turn it into a viable profit-generating vehicle,” states Onyero.

As the company eyes 100 million users in the next few months, it is considering integrating the social media platform with its real estate business, as it plans an initial public offering in the near future.

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