How Fatanmi conceived, grew City Scope Africa
John Fatanmi is the founder of City Scope Africa, a pan-African media platform focusing on showcasing excellence in Africans and shining the spotlights on beautiful places of interest on the continent. In this interview, he speaks about City Scope Africa and its vision for Africa.
When you founded City Scope Africa back then, what was it about and what is it now?
At City Scope Africa our sole aim is to inspire Africans to strive for excellence in major facets of human endeavours and become what they want to be, by reading about the winning stories and strategies of Africans doing small things (sometimes big things) in profoundly transformative ways.
Another core of the mandate is to uncover and harness the untapped potential of Africa’s rich and diverse cultures by showcasing beautiful destinations in Africa for adventure travel and corporate tourism through Afrotourism.
Afrotourism is a vital component of our local economies. It will contribute to African tourism development and change the existing narrative held about the continent, over the years.
What informed your setting up of City Scope Africa?
When I visited Dubai and the oil-rich Emirate of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, in 2014, I was asked to pay about 4,000 Dirhams (over N350,000) for horse riding. This got me mad, especially when I saw Nigerians paying. Yet, back at home, we could barely pay N1,000 to see the statue of Eyo Masquerade in Lagos or Moremi at Ile Ife, Osun State, or at the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Calabar and beautiful mountain at Uganda.
Also, when you meet Emiratis (the name for UAE nationals) on the streets of UAE, you are accosted and asked, are you from Africa? When you respond in the affirmative, they say, ’Oh Africa, corruption and football.’
They mention names like Jay Jay Okocha and Rashidi Yekini. I tried to answer, annoyingly, that Nigeria is not just about football and some African leaders may be corrupt but we have beautiful things in Africa that the western media world does not showcase.
I also remind them that Africa is not a country, but a continent with a lot of opportunities for all of us. I later realised that Rasheed Yekini sometime played for an Abu Dhabi club.
All these informed taking City Scope Africa up a notch, even though I had started low-key in 2011 before visiting the Emirates.
Frankly speaking, the western world knows little or nothing about Africa. More often than not, Africa is always in the bad news of the western media. What is known is that there are jungles, big animals, corruption, poverty and malaria. This sums up the world’s narrative of this great continent over the years. At City Scope Africa, we are using our indigenous media to change such age-long narrative.
What have been your major setbacks to achieving your goals with City Scope Africa?
A whole lot, but I will dwell on a few. Solely setting out in 2011, I had setbacks ranging from brand acceptance to finance. I started just with magazine publication, known back then and registered as City Scope Magazine. At that time, I was a final year student of the Federal University of Technology Akure, South West Nigeria. It was very rough setting out alone. The vision was not very clear, I must confess. So, it was difficult to sell the vision to some of my colleagues back then.
I struggled with making it an entertainment and lifestyle magazine. I had to beg a lot of small and medium scale firms in Akure to place adverts on the magazine. It was printed hard copy back then. In fact, I had to print 1,000 copies each time and I didn’t have the financial purchasing power as a student. I skipped lectures to travel down to Lagos to print and pay the graphics designer. That wasn’t sustainable again. I got stuck financially and had to persuade some friends to work with me pro bono.
I remember inviting my biological younger brother to work on the graphics of the magazine pro bono too. In return, I encouraged him to take his designs up a notch and he is today a co-founder at Fourthcanvas, a design agency that worked on the campaign of three African presidents.
I remember giving up on magazine publication for some three years, after having about three magazine hardcopy publications to my credit.
Technically, it is very tough to be an entrepreneur in this clime.
I picked my vision up again in 2016 from where I left it in 2014 while in Nigeria, before moving to the UAE. I initially visited but got distracted with a job offer from an Abu Dhabi Emirati.
I encountered some setbacks again and made some pathetic mistakes through to 2017.
I later realised that vision is progressive and it grows with a collaborative strategy. God reveals visions in phases, and they are usually fulfilled in phases.
I also suddenly realised that I would always need to raise a company of people to accompany me in my vision. Since I have been struggling with it, I will need to communicate my vision within my little circle of influence.
So I had to revise and recast my vision to myself. I evaluated and did some appraisals and realigned. So I noticed I was not still on course. I invited a partner to join me, whom I have handed over to, today, so I can fully concentrate on the national assignment without distractions and divided attention.
Setbacks are useful part of a vision. Setbacks have a way of making you strong. Aliko Dangote once said, “Life would be very boring without challenges”. So, we shouldn’t pray against setbacks but pray for stronger backs to withstand when they arise.
What should we expect from City Scope Africa in the next five years?
Quite frankly, our initiative, the African Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs Conference, will grow to become the largest gathering of business professionals (budding and successful) and captains of industries in Africa in the next five years or less. I also hold a very strong and convincing belief that the Africa of our dream is possible and achievable.