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Afrostream's Founder, Tonje Bakang, Has A Story To Tell

Editor's note: This piece was originally published in French on Medium and was translated by OkayAfrica contributor, Audrey Lang.

(Tonje Bakang. CREDIT: Mr Nafoore Qâa)

Dear subscribers, partners, entrepreneurs and friends,

On September 13, 2017, almost two years after the launch of the Afrostream video-on-demand service, we are stopping the addition of subscriptions. The service is closing in France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and in 24 African countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Togo. Thank you to the thousands of subscribers who have trusted us and the hundreds of thousands of fans who have followed us on social networks.

Entrepreneurship is a piecemeal game, you just have to miss once for everything to stop.

This is the end of a great entrepreneurial adventure that began in November 2013, almost four years ago. The closing of a company is always a shock for an entrepreneur, but it is also an experience and lesson that will be a precious reminder for other projects as well as a reserve of knowledge and best practices that I will be delighted to share with other entrepreneurs.

I have led Afrostream here but it is possible to go even further.

Many people will be filled with sadness upon receiving word of the announcement of this closure. Some are already speculating as to what led us to this premature end. I would like to step back and share with you the story of the birth, growth and then closure of Afrostream in France.

A UFO in the Audiovisual Landscape

Afrostream was born from a simple observation: African, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American films and series deserve to have wider dissemination. A public in search of representation or discoveries does not always have easy and legal access to aspirational content. The solution we provided was a legal subscription streaming service offering more than 2000 hours of content available on computers, phones, tablets and since the summer of 2016, on the boxes of more than 12 million homes in France on either a Bouygues Telecom or Orange TV offer.

An Impossible Mission
Launching a digital media company requiring the legal acquisition of film and series rights from major Hollywood studios, American chains and more than 100 African producers seemed to be an impossible task when starting the project alone. The fact that Afrostream existed is a small miracle in the media industry in Europe and particularly in France.

To realize this vision, I began by surrounding myself with a talented team. A team specialized in media, whose members went through M6, the Lagardère Group and Molotov. I was accompanied and trained in the ecosystem of startups with TheFamily and their training Koudetat and Koudetat fundraising, I benefited from the training to Entrepreneurship of Cantillon and the start-up incubator Orange Fab.

At the time, on the Afrostream Facebook page, the 50,000 fans who were following the genesis of the project imagined that Afrostream was already a big company with strong kidneys when we were only comprised of 2 people, my co-founder and I.

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