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How To Expand Into Africa Through Partnerships

Farah Chaudhry

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How To Expand Into Africa Through Partnerships

Farah Chaudhry


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Farah Chaudhry
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About Farah Chaudhry

In LAB #6, The BAE HQ Welcomes Farah Chaudhry A Specialist In African Market Partnerships.

Farah  Chaudhry is a senior media and politics executive who's worked across the globe with many different organisations. She is a specialist in partnerships across the African continent and shares her expertise on how businesses can tap into that market.

Farah Chaudhry

Show Notes

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Farah Chaudhry Full Transcript

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: [00:00:00] My background is media. I've been working in media for 17 years, and what partnerships really means is coming together to work collectively towards a common objective or a goal.

Amardeep Parmar: In today's episode, we're looking at how to enter Africa and how to create effective partnerships. So first, we're going to look at what partnerships even means. Then we look at why Africa and what makes it different to other regions and looking at Africa as different countries that all have different cultural differences as opposed to a singular continent.

Amardeep Parmar: And then looking at how's the best way to enter Africa. What's the strategy that you should use in order to make the best of the opportunities available there. We're going to go into some more of the nuances. And then look at what the future holds and why you should be interested in this opportunity and looking at how you can really thrive there.

Amardeep Parmar: So we've got an expert with us today, Farah Tahar, who's a senior media and partnerships executive, who's worked across the [00:01:00] globe with many different organizations. There's a particular strong expertise in the African region, considering she was born there herself, and she's created partnerships with dozens of different countries in the region.

Amardeep Parmar: So massive thank you for joining us today. So Farah, it's all about partnerships today, but sometimes people get confused about what partnerships actually means. Can you tell us what partnerships means in your world?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: My background is media. I've been working in media for 17 years. And what partnerships really means is coming together to work collectively towards a common objective or goal.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Um, with this, I mean, I have got something to offer the media company that I'm possibly working with has something to offer. So how can we both come together to leverage our strengths? So this is what I would define as partnerships coming together, really, to, you know, towards a common goal and  an objective.

Amardeep Parmar: So you've got a lot of experience with Africa as well, right? And that's an area you're specialized in. What's the facts that people who may be considering like branching into the African market and [00:02:00] creating partnerships there. What are the facts that they should consider that maybe they might not know about?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: You know, when people talk about Africa, they think it's a country, but they forget it's actually a continent with 1. 4 billion people. Understanding the media landscape in Africa is very, very challenging and it's very diverse. You know, uh, we've got a wide range of culture, languages and different kind of media outlets.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Right? So when you, you really need to take the time to research and understand the media landscape in specific the regions that, you know, people want to operate in, you know, understanding the major players who are the dominant platforms, you know, whether it's television, radio,online print, and the preferences of the local audiences.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So these are kind of things that people have to understand. And of course, the cultural sensitivity of each of these, you know, um, platforms that I just talked about. Everybody consumes content in Africa in [00:03:00] multiple different ways. You know, internet access may not be readily available in rural areas, but it is in urban areas.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So the way people consume content in the same country can be variable. You could have, um, people in urban areas that are connected to mobile internet or they connect, they watch content on the go, streaming, mobile. Whereas if you go to the, you know, a bit of a rural area, people still listen to the radio and that is their main form of or medium of information.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So understanding the different landscape, the different platforms, the nuances, the cultures. Languages is really, really important for people who are looking to actually go into Africa and do any business in Africa. It's not a one size fit all, it's really tailoring your partnership or your product to the right audiences in the right part of Africa, you've got the Anglophone Africa, you've got the Francophone Africa, and we, we really do celebrate [00:04:00] our culture and our differences and our languages and people really need to understand that.

Amardeep Parmar: So let's say somebody wants to enter Africa and they're trying to pick a country to start off with, how would they go about maybe selecting that? What are some of the facts they should consider between those different countries and how can they localize their product to make sure that they're meeting the needs of the local audience?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I mean, so, I mean, I would look at different key points when you consider, you know, the audience. In Africa, like I said, we're a very diverse continent. You know, it's very diverse in terms of culture and languages. And, um, the TV audience varies from every country, right? Uh, you could be in the same country, like I said, and you could have different audiences, right?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Again, different mediums, different platforms. Um, localizing content is very important. One, because languages, there's multiple languages in Africa that people speak, you know, so if you want to target your audience with the right [00:05:00] content. You need to localize the language and it means you could work with the local partner or local media platform in ensuring that you're localizing that content for the language and for the purpose and for that audience.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And that's how I see something that, that can be very beneficial to any company that's looking to do business in Africa or to penetrate the media product in Africa. You need to understand that languages plays a very different, very big part in that on that continent because there's no point in you broadcasting a

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Spanish or a Arabic channel in West Africa when, you know, the different, the, the language that they speak there is, let's say Hausa, for example, which is like, I'll take Nigeria as an example, which is one of the largest economies in West Africa. So you really need to understand who your audience are so you can localize your content and working with local partners, empowering the local platforms and the local media partners to be able to then, um, target exactly who your audiences are.

Amardeep Parmar: So let's say [00:06:00]  I was. Going to expand into Africa and what were the first steps I should take? What should they be? So would it be trying to find local partners? How would you select the right local partners to work? 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Let me go back. When you're looking to do any business in Africa, I think the first question you need to ask yourself is from a, from a media perspective, let's say, is, are you looking for reach?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Engaging wide audiences, or are you looking to generate revenue? And that's the question that's going to determine your partnership and how you're going to go about it in any part of Africa. So I'll give you an example. If you're a media company, that's primarily interested in a wider reach and, you know, reaching a diverse

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: a range of audiences within the Sub Saharan Africa region, then you would identify your partners accordingly. Multi choice is a key player in Africa. They've got the widest reach across the continent. They're one of the oldest pay TV platforms. So then you negotiate and accordingly get into an agreement.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Based on what your preferences are. And of course it has to be a mutually [00:07:00] beneficial partnership. Um, they can provide you the audience reach that you're looking for. Secondly, again, if you're looking to monetize that content that you're producing, including reaching the wide audiences, they also do offer that because they are a pay TV platform.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So you negotiate your structure, your deal accordingly, where you're putting your content behind a paywall, you're one accessing their audience base, and two, you're able to generate revenue from the subscription of your content. So these are some of the things that you need to look into in terms of what are your preferences, what are your objectives, how are you looking to enter into the, uh, Africa, uh, you know, market and what is really your objective and then structure your deal accordingly.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Uh, there are databases available, there are events available where you can actually go out there and see who are the key players in the market. Some of the big,attending events is really important. And again, like I keep saying, doing business in Africa is really different and challenging. It can be fun at the same time, but it all depends [00:08:00] on that personal relationship that you build.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And they love meeting people because I guess when you put a person in, you know, um, in front of a person,  it's about building the trust and the relationship. So these are some of the things that I highly recommend when people want to go into business in Africa is make the physical appearance because people want to know you, they want to trust you.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: They want to build that relationship with you and it's a long term thing. So building that trust is equally important, not just building that partnership. And, um, so these are some of the things that I would uh, consider when doing business in Africa. 

Amardeep Parmar: So I guess a lot of people in today's world, they want to try to make things remote and they might try to enter Africa in that space where you just have zooms and they'd miss out on that advice you just said right about how important it is to African people to build that in terms of their culture to build that connection in person. What other mistakes do you see people make when they're trying to enter Africa as a new market?

Amardeep Parmar: What do you [00:09:00] see often people do  wrong?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I think the lack of due diligence. People don't really conduct a thorough due diligence on potential partners, partners. And so this is a significant mistake that people make and ignoring the cultural differences. You know, like I said, in the beginning, Africa is a continent of diverse cultures, languages, and business customs as well.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So ignoring these. You know, differences can definitely lead to misunderstandings and of course, miscommunication. So taking the time to understand and respecting culture is very, very crucial for a successful partnership in Africa. 

Amardeep Parmar: And looking at Africa as well, so you've been working along the continent.

Amardeep Parmar: So let's also go into your background there as well. I'll say. Obviously, why do you have such an affinity of Africa? 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I'm born and raised in Africa. I grew up in Africa. It's a continent that I love and I call home. Uh, you know, it's, we, we celebrate our cultures, we celebrate our differences, we celebrate our achievements.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: [00:10:00] We celebrate our, you know, uh, challenges. So I think a lot of people think of Africa as a continent of doom and gloom, which is a very stereotypical view of af uh, you know, of people that don't know much about the world. Um, but that's home. That's what I call home. And that's where I was, where I grew up.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So I, I feel like because I come from there, I have a lot to give back and I see the potential on the, on the continent that we have, you know, let's take Kenya as an example. Kenya is a thriving tech, has a thriving tech community, you know, so given the opportunity, given the, you know, the financial support, given the mentorship, there's so much potential on that continent.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And I, like everybody else says, Africa is the last frontier and I want to be part of that, you know, that change and see the African continent thrive because there is a lot of potential. Um, so not only because I'm from there, I definitely feel that there's, it's a neglected [00:11:00] place where people think that there is, you know, not much opportunity there, but it's definitely the front next frontier.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And you're going to see a lot of new, um, startups, new products, new launches coming out of that continent. And we see that we already see that there are some successful African, you know, entrepreneurs that are being recognized globally around the world and it's hard work and it's all coming out of the African continent.

Amardeep Parmar: Hey everyone. I hope you're enjoying this episode so far. The BAE HQ has a podcast. But we're so much more than that. So if you want to find out about all the events we've got going on, all the different ways you can meet each other, as well as resources to help you build the business of your dreams, then check out the link in the show notes, sign up to our newsletter, where you get a weekly roundup, which we like to call the BAE letter, that will keep you in the loop.

Amardeep Parmar: If you want to help us out, the best thing you can possibly do is sign up to our newsletter and share it with your friends. So that's enough for me. Now, let's get back to the show. 

Amardeep Parmar:Yeah. And it's great. You mentioned that as well. I [00:12:00] just wanted to bring back your, your history in that. ‘Cause you've seen how the continent has developed and like your experience in different countries as well.

Amardeep Parmar: You can see how things are changing over time and you can see that progress has been made and looking at that. So how do you think things have changed in terms of relationship building for people from, say, Britain who are trying to work of Africa. How do you see that relationship has changed over the years and has it got easier or what's the like, 

Amardeep Parmar: would you say today as it is have been to work with people in Africa and work with companies out there? 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Well, that's a very interesting question of my deep,  how have I seen things change over time? I think if you go back to the history, Africa is a former colonial continent, right? It has been colonized by the British, the French, Belgium, you name it.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: You know, there has been a dark history on the continent. Uh, I'm not a historian, so I can't really go dig deep into that. But what I can say is that there's [00:13:00] always been that skepticism of doing business with the West, right? They would like to, we would think that they would come and exploit and take away the talent, the resources, et cetera.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: But I think the mindset,mindset and the shift is changing with the younger generation. Uh, people are more open and inclusive to working with the West. We've had our tough periods, but I think the future is still positive and progressive. Um, a lot of companies in Britain, uh, now doing business in Africa, and I think what they've recognized is that they just can't do it themselves.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: They need to have local partners, so they're working collaboratively with local partners and trying to enhance those relationships. And again, it's building that trust, right? Like I mentioned, so working with local partners, I think, is the way forward. And this is my advice, as always, is try to get somebody on the ground who's got the knowledge, the [00:14:00] expertise.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: The relationships, the network and use that and leverage that and don't try to do everything yourself because that's not going to help because you're going to come in, you're going to try to do business in Africa on your own. There's no, I mean, it's, you're barely going to succeed. Try to work with the local people as much as you can, because they're definitely going to help you build your business.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And that's coming back to partnerships. It's all about collaborating with locals and trying to enhance your business. And if you have something to do, something to launch in Africa, a new business and new product, it's not going to be, you know, a different colored person, different speaking a different language coming to sell to us.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: It's not going to work like that. You have to understand us, understand our culture, understand our language. And then you'll be able to come in, you know, thrive in that community. 

Amardeep Parmar: Do you have any examples of people that you think have done that localization very well, or whether it's an example from your own past as well, where you've adapted a product or you've seen somebody else adapt a product.

Amardeep Parmar: And because they've made those changes, it's really [00:15:00] taken off in a particular region within Africa. 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I'dlike to say the BBC has done a great job in Africa. You know, they've understood the concept of localizing content. You know, they broadcast in multiple languages, they reach a diverse group of audience.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: They reach, you know, audiences, remote parts of Africa, both on radio and television. So they've definitely understood the model of, you know, it is the British company broadcasting in Africa, covering African news, uh, news, current affairs programs, you know, and localizing that content to reach their audiences, which is fantastic.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: You know, I don't see any other media company doing half as much as what the BBC has done in terms of localizing the content to reach, you know, that niche and that niche audience. 

Amardeep Parmar: Let's say somebody listening right now is considering entering Africa, but they're into mines, like you said, they've had some of the stereotypes disbanded a bit from what you've had so far, what would you tell them?

Amardeep Parmar: What would you advise them if they were thinking about, they're on the [00:16:00] fence about entering Africa, how would you convince them that this is where the opportunity is and this is where they should be? 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Let me try to think this one. How would I convince them that you need to, I mean, getting, looking at the data, looking at the data set, I mean, it's really, really important to understand.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: What is your business? Is there data out there to support what you're trying to do to enter into Africa? And there is, you know, from the media perspective, let's look at it. There is a lot of data. There's so many companies like Nielsen, that's, you know, collecting data about habits, viewership habits. You know, consumption, television consumption habits, um, use your data to drive your decision, you know, don't just blindly go into any, that's like any other thing, you know, right?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Getting a very concrete, um, due diligence data to be able to then. Drive your decision of trying to get into Africa to do business, but it depends what, uh, what, uh, you know, media companies think that it's really easy to go [00:17:00] in and set up a 24 news channel or to set up a radio station and succeed. No, you need to understand, like I said,

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: different regions, different products, different languages, different cultures, get your data right. Understand what your audience are and then go in to do business. It's as simple as that. You know. 

Amardeep Parmar: Looking at some of the companies that have entered Africa so far and been successful. What are some examples there that they've done well, and why have they done well?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: FinTech is a big prime example in Africa, which is a success story. People trying to send money across Africa was previously very, very, it was very challenging, right? If you want to send money to your family member who is probably in a different country, either you have to go through a bank. Most people don't have bank accounts, right?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Or you'd have to have an alternative, you know, money transfer system like Western Union. But one of our successes has been the mobile money transfer. M Pesa is a great product that [00:18:00] everybody talks about. It was launched in Kenya and it made life so much easier for people to be able to transact. Somebody from the village can actually come and sell their product or produce in the, you know, the urban areas in Kenya.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And they'll be able to transact without having any hard cash on them. You can send that money over, uh, you know, over your mobile application, and they can then, you know, exchange that and use that virtually. Right? So, these are some of the things that I think, even though sometimes you think that different parts of Africa are, Culturally different, but some of our similarities are really, you know, some of the products that we create serve the common purpose of Africa. Same thing in Nigeria, you know, you look at NALA money, you know, they're sending money within Africa and internationally, you can send money within Africa and you don't need a bank account anymore.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: You don't need to have any government regulation or a bank regulation body that can monitor that. It's much easier now to be able to do that. And I think these are some of the [00:19:00] things that are going to help prosper the country when you can actually easily transact and send money to each other and do business in Africa without a lot of regulations.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: These are signs of prosperity. 

Amardeep Parmar: Sobefore we get into our questions here, I just want to go into, so you've obviously got a new role with yourself and what are some of the things you're excited by about what you're hoping to work on with Africa? 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I am, um, so I'm starting a new role next week and I think part of my role is going to be managing the relationships with media across Europe, Middle East Africa.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And I think I'm more interested in how can we try to improve, uh, the brand presence of the new, you know, of the company that I'm going to join in Africa and trying to get people to consume more and more of that content because it is financial related and people need to have, you know, um, access to financial information because that really drives your day to day and drives business decisions.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So as much as we can talk about, [00:20:00] you know, culture, art, fashion, it's nice to have a financial element to it and have an understanding of that because really financial decisions drive your day to day. So I'm excited about improving the brand presence of Dow Jones across, you know, different regions of the world, including Africa.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And, uh, yeah, it's a new chapter. I'm looking forward to. 

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for everything you've shared today. If we jump into the quickfire questions now. So the first one is, who are three British Asians that you'd love to spotlight so that people listening can learn more about the great work they're doing?

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: Yeah, so I'd like to shout out Dees. Dees, you know, he's also known as Cyber Dees. He's a creative technologist. He comes from Africa, but of course he's based in England at the moment. And he invests in diverse and under representative minority founders. In, uh, globally, and we have a long history. We used to meet on the streets of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and we always had something to catch up on at the time when he was working with Mozilla.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So he's [00:21:00] one, um, Adil Ray. He's a media personality. And, um, you know, he's really, you know, respected by the Asian community in the UK for the work that he does. And he represents definitely the minority community in, in the UK. So he's, he's one, he's great. Thirdly, I'd like to shout out to Benjamin Fernandes, who was former media, was a former media personality in Tanzania.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: But today he's created NALA, which is a money transfer system for Africans worldwide. And he's changing lives of people, you know, using his FinTech. And, um, it's a great story and I definitely like to shout out these three guys in, uh, in the UK. 

Amardeep Parmar: Let's say people have loved what you said today. They want to learn more about you and what you're up to.

Amardeep Parmar: Where should they go to? How can they learn more about you? 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I'm a people's person. People can contact me on LinkedIn and I'll catch up for a coffee or something. Uh, I definitely love to meet people in person. And, uh, I think If they want to see [00:22:00] me, they want to catch up with me. I'm just a phone call away, email away.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And all my information is on LinkedIn and, um, let's have a coffee. 

Amardeep Parmar: So your LinkedIn will be in the show notes as well for anybody listening. So you can click the link there. Is there anything that you need help with right now that maybe the audience members could reach out to you about? And help you. 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I'm always looking to learn.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I'm always looking to network. And if there's anybody who is in the media space or in the tech space or at the intersection of media and technology, I'd love to connect and learn more about it because I am new to the UK. I'm only just a year and a half old here, and I'm looking to build my own personal professional network.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: So anybody out there who's in the media and tech space, I'd love to connect. I'd love to speak to you. Let's grab a coffee anytime. 

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words for the audience? 

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: I guess the take home message is listen to your conscience, always believe in yourself.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And of course, because I am an African and I come from Africa, I'm passionate about Africa. [00:23:00] There is a lot of opportunity there for growth. There's a lot of opportunity there for partnerships. There's a lot of opportunity there that you can actually tap into and work with the local people to actually put the African continent on the map.

Farah Tarah Chaudhry: And, you know, um, It is a success story and it continues to be a success story, so let's all work together to make Africa a great place.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It meets a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes a world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here,

Amardeep Parmar: to inspire, connect and guide the next generation British Asians. If you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests. We can host more events. We can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part.

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for supporting us.

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