Afropolitan Receives $2.1m in Funding To Build Digital Nation For Africans

Afropolitan is a startup that aims to create a digital nation for Africans. It has received pre-seed funding in excess of $2.1 Million.

Founded in 2016 by Eche Emole and Chika Uwazie, Afropolitan started out as an organisation that organised parties, events, and festivals for the African diaspora.

In 2019, it made a name for itself after it organised parties for international travellers who had visited Ghana to attend the Year of Return event. That year, the number of international travellers peaked at 1.13 million, from 960,000 in 2018, which helped contribute an additional $1.9 billion to the Ghanaian economy.

Afropolitan’s inspiration for this digital nation can be traced to an article written by the former CTO of Coinbase, Balaji Srinivasan, in April 2021, titled “How to start a new country” in the 21st century.

Srinivasan envisions that this new country, the “network state,” he calls it, will be ”built on the cloud-first.   “Our idea is to proceed cloud-first, land last. Instead of starting with physical territory, we begin with the digital community. We recruit online for a group of people interested in founding a new virtual social network, a new city, and eventually a new country,” he writes.

Srinivasan was also an angel investor in the startup. Cultur3 Capital, Atlantica Ventures and RallyCap Ventures were among the venture capital companies that participated in this round.

Emole believes that Africa is the most desperate continent for a digital country because of its many failed states. He explained that lingering poverty (which sees that 9 of the 10 countries with the highest poverty rates are African), coups d’etat, civil wars and self-imposed autocratic leaders have starved Africa of viable socio-economic opportunities.

Emole also said that #EndSARS, a 2-week protest against police brutality in his home country, Nigeria, made him realise that his country had competent people and yet that doesn’t translate to good governance. “It doesn’t matter how well the standards are doing when the bad governance shows up. It has an impact on everything. We’ve tried engineering our way out of these problems, and it’s not working,” Emole said.

Emole stated that Afropolitan aims to address the global problem of scarcity faced by black people. This manifests as inability to access money, institutions and quality living. A digital nation will be created that can help black people build prosperous lives.

Emole envisions a digital nation as Facebook—the biggest social media platform in the world with over almost 3 billion users—filled with people with shared values and governed by a single cryptocurrency,

Afropolitan’s digital nation will be built in 4 phases. The first phase will see it admit people into its decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), and NFTs serve as digital passports. In the second phase, it will develop a super-app that will allow people access to their assets, to send money overseas, to earn through the DAO, as well as to buy goods and services. The next phase is what is called a “minimum viable state” which will allow it to offer some government services—case in point, help Africans stuck in the Russian-Ukraine crisis. The next phase will be a push for full-scale sovereignity and the acquisition of physical lands across cities worldwide. “Think a ‘Chinatown/Afropolitan Town’ in every city in the world where our members can establish a physical presence to create economic opportunities. Our network state will serve as the capital that governs these enclaves that will serve as embassies,” Afropolitan said in a statement.

One of the VCs that invested in Afropolitan, Shima Capital, believes that Africa’s population; macroeconomics and socioeconomic states are similar to the one that positioned the South East Asian region to capture value during the Web 2 technology boom. “We believe Africa is the next emerging economy that will significantly benefit from the technology paradigm shift from Web 2 to Web 3. For this value capture to take place, you need catalysts like Afropolitan,” Shima Capital said.

“The African diaspora represents roughly 150 million people, while the continent is home to nearly 1.5 billion, with 70% in sub-Saharan Africa under 30. As such, its demographics make Africa one of this century’s most compelling growth stories; yet its intellectual, creative, and cultural capital remains overlooked, underfunded, and undervalued. Afropolitan aims to change that,” Cultur3 Capital, said.

It also said it believes in Afropolitan’s community approach: “Talking about ‘community’ is easy. It’s hard to build it. We at Culture couldn’t be more excited to support Afropolitan in its mission to serve the African diaspora’s vast and deep talent. This community-first approach, combined with their unmatched network of Africa’s top entrepreneurs, artists, and creators, will be the key that unlocks the region’s vast yet underrepresented talent.”

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