We stimulate growth by showcasing companies revolutionising African businesses – CNN senior vice president

Rob Bradley is the senior vice president, CNN International Commercial. In this interview with BusinessDay’s Endurance Okafor, he speaks on the role CNN plays in bringing visibility to African businesses. Excerpts:

What does the CNN partnership with Afrexim bank hold for businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa?

This is a really positive and innovative initiative because it is creating truly valuable connections and access to new partners, markets and financing that can help businesses to flourish, throughout the continent, particularly with intra-Africa trade.

The stories of the 10 scale-up companies have been captured by our in-house global brand studio, including footage from their presentations at Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF). This will be produced into a branded content series to amplify their stories to our global audience, highlighting African ingenuity and how business ideas can be transformed into highly scaled enterprises. It will also demonstrate the important role of networks and partners like Afreximbank, who we’re working with on this, in driving rapid growth.

With the newly-launched African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), what role will CNN play in bringing visibility to African businesses?

We have several series across TV, digital and social dedicated to African business. Connecting Africa looks at cross-continent trade across the value chain from small and emerging businesses and entrepreneurs to large companies with global scale. It highlights the people and companies that are revolutionising African business, championing trade and expansion across the continent and internationally.

Each week Marketplace Africa, which is a longstanding series, covers the macro trends impacting the region and meets the people behind the continent’s key industries and corporations.

There’s also a wealth of content across CNN which features business stories from Africa and more widely on CNN International there’s over 11 hours of Africa content airing each week with five Africa-focused series covering everything from innovation and technology to arts and culture.

The stories we tell have a huge impact and often result in change because CNN is watched and highly trusted by leaders in business, culture and politics. This could be a change in policy, in business dealings, in consumer behaviour or opinion. We call this the CNN effect and hope to create a positive impact from the work that we do, whether that is from the reporting by our colleagues on the editorial team or through campaigns and branded content that we produce for our partners. With this particular initiative, we hope that our scale and global audience will drive awareness, new connections, customers and financing for the companies involved to help stimulate their business growth and facilitate intra-African trade.

Which 10 companies have been selected for partnership and financing at the IATF?

There’s a great set of really inspiring companies for our first initiative. They are Aerobotics, Afrikea, Apollo Agriculture, Farmcrowdy, Kobo360, MFS Africa, mPharma, Sokowatch, SunCulture and Trella.

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What are the metrics used to select these companies?

We looked for companies that are changing the future of African commerce and after identifying around 500 scale-up companies we chose a final 10 to take part in the initiative. The 10 businesses, from all across Africa, demonstrated an ability to alter and improve industries with new and salable business models and showed the aptitude to transform them into high-growth ventures that are poised for international expansion.

Is there a business focus area for companies selected under the initiative?

Various industry sectors are represented including agriculture, healthcare, logistics and retail.

Are plans in place to further promote African owned businesses upon conclusion of the IATF?

Yes, the initiative will continue and as I mentioned there’ll be a series of branded content with films, articles, and visuals which highlight the companies, their founders and their mission. These will feature on a dedicated page on and will be promoted to target audiences and on social media so people all around the world can learn more about the companies and their road to success.

Does CNN have plans to promote this initiative in the future?

Absolutely, we’re already looking at what we can do next to help other businesses to grow and how we can help to amplify their message through branded content on CNN. As this is a new project we are also constantly taking stock of the work we have done so far so we can learn and optimize for the future.

Will there be an opportunity for independent country initiatives of this manner in collaboration with CNN?

One of the key aims for this inaugural initiative was to help stimulate growth and trade throughout Africa and shine a light on these amazing companies, rather than independent countries, but I can see a world where we work with an independent country on a similar initiative.

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