A Nigerian entertainment company has scored a coup: possibly the most successful round of fundraising ever conducted by a tech business in West Africa.
Along with other investors, billionaire Chase Coleman directed his New York-based hedge fund and equity firm to give $8 million in funding to Iroko Partners, the brain child of Nigerian entrepreneur Jason Njorku.
Njorku has led Iroko Partners to become the leading digital distributor of movies and music from Nigeria and Africa. It boasts a library of 4,800 Igbo, Ghanaian, Yoruba and English videos.
In 2011, the company’s YouTube channel scored 152 million views, making it the most popular African partner of YouTube. Njorku has also set up content distribution deals with Amazon, Vimeo, iTunes and Daily Motion. Iroko Partners is the holding company for Nollywood Love.
Njorku said in a Forbes.com interview that he didn’t have to work hard to raise the venture capital funds. Once media coverage spread the word about his company, Njorku said, investors responded to his vision of introducing the world to Nigerian movies and music through the Internet.
The $8 million in venture capital will be directly reinvested in the company, bringing in new people, infrastructure and technology, Njorku said. The company will soon open an office in New York City and is hiring a sales team for that office and ones in London and Lagos to push Nollywood.
The cash is particularly helpful, Njorku said, because delivering entertainment online is a cash-intensive venture – especially on the scale that Iroko Partners uses. Viewers watched 4.19 million hours of video in the first quarter of 2012, consuming 3.4 million gigabytes, and paying for that bandwidth is expensive.
Njorku said he aims to set Iroko Partners on a path of sustainable growth. He has received many offers but wants to take the time to develop the right strategic partnerships.
Read more at Forbes.