A Talk with Jamati’s Founder: Elias Mageto

I’ve been tracking a site called Jamati, an African entertainment portal, for a little while. Sitting out in Nairobi last week, I got an email wondering if I wanted to talk to the founder, a certain Elias Mageto, who happened to be in town from the US at the same time. Good timing!

“We want to be the go-to network for the diaspora.”

I thought Jamati was new. It isn’t. In fact, it was first launched in 2001, relaunched in 2005, and then relaunched again in 2007. The fact that I finally heard about it last year is proof that Elias finally has found the right mix to make it work.

Elias is Kenyan, with an American mother, and has no Kenyan accent at all (interestingly, a lot like a certain political candidate in the US). An unlikely background in Economics, time at the World Bank and Congressional Black Caucus wasn’t what I was expecting to hear as the background to his entrepreneurial drive into online entertainment. However, he saw a niche needing to be filled and, over 7 years, has continued to try to crack it open.

One of the things that Elias said struck me as very important for this type of pan-African portal play. That is, his seven-person team is made up of individuals from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Everyone in this space knows that it’s a lot easier to be regional than continental, but a team makeup like this means it’s easier to do. Those connections back into each major region are already there.

Competitively, two other new publishers,AfricanPath and African Loft, would seem to be the most logical comparison. However, knowing a little about both companies, I think they’re all doing different things (right now, but there will be greater overlap as they grow).

  • AfricanPath is about African news, business and politics.
  • African Loft is about African diaspora community and African news.
  • Jamati is about African lifestyle and entertainment.

All bridge two worlds, with heavy readership percentages from the diaspora. It will be interesting to see which can grow as time passes, and more importantly, which can attract enough eyeballs for advertisers to start funding more growth.

15 thoughts on “A Talk with Jamati’s Founder: Elias Mageto

  1. Just to clarify for afrostartups and others – Jamati.com is not a social networking site. We are the first portal launched by Diaspora Interactive Media Corp (http://www.dimcorporation.com).

    We strive to showcase African Entertainment from the continent and around the Diaspora on a daily basis. You might want to think of us as an E-zine vs. social networking site. Although we do offer quite a bit of networking as a consequence of our relationships (smile).

    If you do have additional questions, feel free to send media inquiries , etc…my way.

    Thanks again for your interest in Jamati!

  2. “I think Jamati is a good site but my only problem with social sites is monetization. We all know the main draw back of facebook and youtube. I would like to know how jamati will monetize the site.” – Afrostartup

    I don’t think it’s a matter of difficulty monetizing social networks, they just monetize in a different way based on the issues surrounding social networks. First off, Jamati.com is not a social network (in that users do not create the content). We’re in the business of creating content (so far), whereas social networks allow the user to create content. The common issue with monetizing social networks is the frequent misuse of copyrighted material published by the user, often against copyright laws. When a social network sells ads on pages that contain unauthorized use of copyrighted material, they are typically profiting in an unethical, if not illegal way. That’s why so many lawsuits have been brought up against the likes of YouTube.com and others. But since we control the content on our site and attempt to make all necessary authorizations before using copyrighted material, the issue of selling ads on our pages is less conflicting.

    Most editorial based sites monetize through partnered sponsorships, ad placements, and advertorials (paid-for editorials). Some even set up e-stores and sell branded products. One advantage editorial sites have over social networks is brand power. Many advertisers like to associate themselves with strong brands, and Jamati.com is certainly becoming that.

    Demographics is key part of brand power, and the more niche a brand can be, the greater the likelihood of successfully run targeted ad campaigns. Certainly traffic volume is important, but if you consider MySpace, with such a wide spread demographic, the success of an African based ad campaign would pale in comparison to one run on Jamati.com which primarily targets Africans and the diaspora.

    As online advertisers look for new ways to engage their markets, it will be up to the content providers to develop new ways of reaching those markets and tapping into new ones.

  3. Hey Hash, I have spoken to Elias a few times especially before the relaunch of Jamati. I know he is on point and working on a number of things to fill up the African digital space. Jamati is a really cool site and I know it is growing. Kudos for the interview and keep up the good work, Jamati.

  4. Gathoni Kungu says:

    Hey, this is all so interesting because i am Kenyan…and we are shooting a show called the Patricia show and i would love to have Elias Mageto- the founder come onto the show and talk about Jamati. Please give me his contacts so that if and when he is Kenya we can have him on the show.

  5. I am a black Puerto Rican who discovered Jamati.com just 15 minutes ago while reading an article titled “Africa, land of ebony divas” I was very happy because I love every thing about black people in general and black women in particular. At the same time the artcle disapointed me a bit because the only three pictures they showed were two light skin women,Thandie and Iman and the South African actress Charlize.Before I jump into the world of Jamati.com I would like to know if that is the kind of representation of Africa I will typically see at Jamati’s… …

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