Written by: Sierra Goerg
“We are not the only ones,” thought Yunus&Youth fellow, Chidi Nwaogu, which sparked him and his twin brother, Chika, to create an online publishing platform for African authors and musical artists.
In 2017, Chidi and Chika came across a problem while trying to monetize their creative works; Chidi wrote a book and Chika recorded a studio album. Chika paid money to distribute his music on Tunecore, an American music aggregator where he could sell his music and earn revenue. However, once he started making money, they found out that Tunecore primarily pays royalties through PayPal and in many African countries, like Nigeria where they both live, PayPal cannot be used to receive money. They had to fall back on receiving a check payment. Even though they knew it would take over five weeks to receive the check and get the money into Chika’s bank account. After two months passed without receiving a check, they learned that someone with a fake ID intercepted the check and stole Chika’s money. This is where the idea for Publiseer began.
“We need to start a program for African creators. People like us exist; we are not the only ones trying to monetize our work internationally.”
Chidi and Chika went on to create Publiseer, a website allowing independent African artists to promote, and monetize their creative works through more than 400 well-established platforms worldwide at no charge.
Chidi grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, none of whom attended University. His mom lost her job when he was seven because she had no computer literacy skills. It was at that moment when she went and, as a young mother, bought a computer to ensure Chidi and his twin would not face the same problem. They immediately became interested in the computer, and at 13 years old, he and his twin were teaching themselves how to code HTML and CSS. Three years later, at aged 16, they created their first video game and discovered that they had a passion for solving problems using technology. Chidi describes, “I remember thinking we can actually create something out of nothing and have it change people’s lives.”
In roughly 90 days, they launched Publiseer. They were able to do it in-house because Chidi and Chika are both software developers. The format behind Publiseer differs from other self-publishing websites because they don’t publish every work sent to them. They review every submission and handpick what gets accepted to be listed. Publiseer then fine-tunes the accepted work, at no charge, to industry standards so that the artists have a chance to compete in the global market. For example, they provide eye-catching album artwork and professional book covers.
“We wanted to help African creators, typically from lower-income countries, that cannot pay for the distribution process. We help them do it for free and then share the revenue created from it and use a localized payment system so they can receive the royalties.”
So far Publiseer has had over 15,000 submissions but only has published roughly 3,000 digital contents. They are working with around 2,223 creators on their platform. With their team of 6 members, it takes approximately two weeks to review submitted content. However, they plan to grow their size so they can turn out new material every couple of days.
The issue of monetizing creative works is occurring in emerging markets, typically where there are a lot of young people with talent. It is happening in almost all countries in Africa. It’s a widespread problem in mostly marginalized markets where people do not have access to western payments. Chidi wants to first dominate the African market before expanding Publiseer to other places like India and the Philipines.
Chidi has worked with his twin Chika his entire life. “I sometimes think I know him better than he knows himself,” Chidi explains, “We work best together. It’s someone who has the same work ethic who can mirror it back to yourself. If we ever sell this company, we will definitely work together again to create another one.”