Wowzi, a Kenyan company, has acquired $3.2 million in pre-seed and seed fundraising rounds to help it expand its influencer marketing network across Africa.
Wowzi is an online marketplace that democratises influence by linking common social media users with large companies and allowing nano and micro-producers to earn money by promoting brand messages via social media. Wowzi was launched in 2020.
The startup’s self-serve online platform enables brands of any size or industry to create and manage massive, distributed messaging campaigns by enlisting the help of thousands of real, everyday customers and fans who are paid to provide genuine endorsements for products they already love on the internet.
Brands such as Netflix, Safaricom, Diageo, Coca-Cola, P&G, and Absa Bank are now planning campaigns with 5,000 or more individuals at a time, with Wowzi onboarding 70,000 influencers throughout Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in its first 18 months of existence, mostly by word of mouth.
To.org, Golden Palm Investments, LoftyInc Capital, Afropreneur Angels, and Future Africa all participated in a US$2 million seed round headed by 4DX Ventures to help the business expand. Christina Sass, co-founder of Andela, as well as graduates Jessica Chervin, Justin Ziegler, and Johnny Falla, took part in the event. The US $2 million seed financing follows a previously undisclosed US$1.2 million pre-seed round in 2020, bringing the total amount raised to US$3.2 million to date.
Wowzi intends to utilise the additional capital to expand collaborations with local, regional, and global FMCG firms, telecoms, banks, creative agencies, and development organisations in order to generate decent digital economy jobs for African youth.
“Mobile use has become a key driver of commerce in African markets, and it’s where young people already spend their time. Young people only require lightweight remote training to master the key principles of sharing brand messages, so suddenly anyone with a phone can influence their peers through social media. Now that Wowzi has created the technology platform to efficiently distribute and manage job offers to thousands of youths at a time, brands have an opportunity to engage directly with youth and offer meaningful gig work. Wowzi offers a new layer of advertising for brands that can help target niche communities,” said Wowzi co-founder and CEO Brian Mogeni.
“This new layer of advertising plays into emerging trends of decentralised social networks, creating creators who think of themselves as media entrepreneurs. Furthermore, we are building the world’s best technology that can scale globally to meet the evolving needs of users and brands.”
Generation Z African artists, according to Wowzi co-founder Mike Otieno, influence peer purchase decisions through distinct online and physical networks.
Wowzi has the potential to alter the way advertising is done in Africa and beyond, according to 4DX Ventures co-founder and general partner Peter Orth.
“Wowzi is creating a marketplace that assigns value to creativity. That hasn’t been done before on the African continent at scale. Our mission is to connect capacity to opportunity, and that’s precisely what the platform does for emerging creators. We set an ambitious goal of creating one million jobs for African youth, and already this year we’ve delivered nearly 200,000 such paid gigs.”
“The ROI their platform delivers to brands is an order of magnitude better than traditional advertising campaigns, and while delivering this impact they are also creating a large number of jobs for an emerging class of digital influencers. We’re very excited to partner with Wowzi to help them deliver on their big vision,” he said.