WeThinkCode co-founder debuts African audio library app

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Arlene Mulder, co-founder of WeThinkCode and the BiB app.
Arlene Mulder, co-founder of WeThinkCode and the BiB app.

South African entrepreneur and WeThinkCode co-founder Arlene Mulder has introduced the BiB app, billed as Africa’s first audio library app to host unique content from around the continent.

The BiB app allows users to directly purchase and listen to a curated selection of African books, series and theatre pieces narrated by acclaimed local voice artists.

During lockdown, Mulder and co-founder Juanita Kotzé set out to bring their BiB app concept to life. In a few months, they developed the app, recorded 60 titles with artists and sealed partnership deals with publishers, including Naspers’s NB Publishers, Protea, Lapa Publishers and Black Book Club.

Registered under tech start-up My BiB, the contemporary platform also shares the continent’s original narratives with a worldwide audience, showcasing Africa’s rich tradition of storytelling and preserving the content for future generations.

“BiB’s mission is to bring the richness of Africa’s story-telling heritage to the world, and through our strategic partnerships with content creators, authors and publishers, we aim to present the extraordinary diversity of African voices,” says Mulder.

“We’re a South African start-up with a Pan-African focus, and we plan to go beyond this country’s 11 official languages and borders to feature content from across the continent, and the African diaspora abroad. We believe our tech platform is ideal for preserving and promoting Africa’s deep storytelling culture and traditions, protecting African stories into the long future for generations to come.”

At the end of April, the app, which is available on the iOS and Google app stores, will launch its first subscription offering at R159.99 per month.

After seven years as an investment banker,Mulder left the world of finance to follow her North Star. Invigorated by the promise of technology to disrupt the status quo, problem-solve and deliver a better world, she co-founded WeThinkCode, a training and placement company that develops in-demand African tech talent.

This year, Mulder was selected into the 14th Class of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, a global alliance of over 300 African entrepreneurs who collaborate across the continent to unlock Africa’s potential and drive prosperity.

In 2019, she won the Forbes Woman Africa Technology and Innovation Award.

She continues to serve as a non-executive director at WeThinkCode.

In its ongoing documenting of African literature and theatre productions, BiB is providing a vital source of job creation for artists whose livelihoods have been severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, according to Mulder.

Under the creative direction of BiB co-founder Kotzé, new theatre, series and children’s theatre are in development. These include local actress Buhle Ncgaba’s Girl Without A Sound, which will be published in all 11 vernaculars; musician Zolani Mahola’s one-woman show The One Who Sings; and a melodic Xhosa children stories and lullabies series.

In collaboration with former Miss SA title-holders Jo-Ann Strauss and Amy Kleynhans-Curd, The Brave Girl Collection of short stories about legendary women from Africa is also in creation.

“We’re delighted to include works from best-selling writers such as Deon Meyer and Dalene Matthee, read by some of South Africa's best actors and voice artists like June van Merch and Stian Bam,” notes Mulder.

“Other highlights currently on the platform are Malcolm Gooding's memoir, Confessions of a Voice Artist, which takes the listener through a golden era in radio, when shows like Squad Cars and Jet Jungle held young and old spellbound.”

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