Often times, the narrative of Africa as presented in images on the internet is pretty much a one-sided discourse and mostly stereotypical. We hardly control our own stories when it comes to that area on the internet. The stock photo platforms that are not Afrocentric portray one side of the story when it comes to images.
Two Kenyan entrepreneurs have been on a journey to change this, and giving more power to our own narratives when it comes to images on the internet. Dicky Hockie and Sitati Kituyi are Kenyan entrepreneurs who launched AfricanStockPhoto, an Afrocentric stock photography marketplace.
The platform was birthed in 2015, as a side project, but it went public in February 2017. Photographers for the marketplace are impressively increasing, and so are the buyers, both within and outside the continent.
It is an exciting idea really, particularly because of its reason for existence. AfricanStockPhoto is there to tell the story of the Africans by the Africans. Stock photography of Africa is not the exact portrayal of Africa. It is hardly what Africa is. It usually represents the stereotypes of wildlife, poverty, tribespeople, but Africa is certainly and definitely more than that.
For advertisers and for businesses, the reflection of Africa is presented poorly. It largely borders on the negative, and the inaccurate.
Photographers across the continent contribute to AfricaStockPhoto, thereby creating an authentic presentation of African imagery. Africa has a lot to offer, and will never run out of stories to offer through imagery, and that's what makes AfricanStockPhoto an exciting idea. Authentic photos which rightly depict the day-to-day Africa can easily be accessed and purchased on this marketplace.
The entrepreneurs have stepped up to challenge Africa's problems and solving them. Their business originated from their savings, but with more funding, they are remarkably growing. They were able to raise a US$50,000 pre-seed fund last November, allowing them to transition into full-time operation and focus on marketing and getting photographers, but more funding is still needed.
"The most exciting aspect of our business is working with photographers across the continent to build a rich, diverse collection of imagery. If we’re given US$1m to invest, we’d put that money towards working with talented studios and freelance photographers to document more day-to-day activities in the context of their home countries," co-founder Kituyi said.
The sales on the site currently are modest and not anywhere near being profitable, but as the startup is keenly focused on growth, this matters little at the moment. Pricing for images in the stock photo industry is flexible, and for sales made, the startup takes 30% to 50% commission depending on the mode of payment in terms of frequency. Pricing can be a bit problematic. Prices for images can be relatively cheap or expensive depending on the site and content.
The idea is in its entirety very noble and exciting. There is power being given to African content creators. It's fascinating, and yet still challenging. The growth of AfricanStockPhoto will be a subject of interest in the few coming years.
Header image credit: Africa.com