Rwanda’s Bafana launches to help artists, creators, athletes connect with their fans

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Rwandan startup Bafana has launched a platform that provides African artists, creators and athletes with the necessary tools to connect with and raise funds from their fans around the world. 

Founded in October 2020 by Yves Mugenga and Isaac Muraganwa, both recent graduates of the African Leadership University, Bafana allows artists or athletes to create a personal page on which they can showcase their talent and creations and receive tips from fans.

They don’t need to be “internet famous” or have an established social media presence to start receiving funds – although fame certainly helps,” Mugenga told Disrupt Africa.

“The service also removes the hustle of sharing the Spotify, Deezer or YouTube links independently, as all links to all those platforms can be put on that personal page. It takes the form of a promotional page that can be shared easily across your social media accounts.”

It is, Mugenga says, in a way the new “business card” of an African artist or athlete. The origin of the idea dates back to its founders’ college years. 

“We both share a passion and love for the creative arts and sports, this led us to build relationships and work with young men and women who pursued arts and sports as a full time career, and we got to see first hand the glamorous and behind scenes of the industry,” said Mugenga. “The way the lack of defined mediums for them to generate revenue from their fans hindered the growth of their careers.”

This hidden reality was made more evident, he said, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting them in a situation where their main source of revenue – live shows and matches – was cut off. Bafana looks to fill that gap, though Mugenga says it has a place in the market even beyond the pandemic.

“Africa has the world’s fastest rising population, and because of this African artists and athletes enjoy titanic fanbases in their home countries and abroad. But there are only few mediums they can use to monetise their audience, and the existing streaming platforms and crowdfunding sites are not accessible to the majority their African fans mainly due to their low penetration on the African continent, causing the income they get from those platforms not to be enough for them to sustain their careers,” he said.

“Our competitive advantage is that we have incorporated local and international payment options such as mobile money, USSD technology, and credit card payment systems. This enables an African fan to send the US$5 to their favourite artist or athlete, whether he or she is in a rural village in Kenya, sitting in the Kigali Convention Centre, or jogging in New York.”

The startup launched its MVP in January, and has been improving the platform based on feedback from its customers. To date, it has over 160 artists in Rwanda registered, and 10 per cent of them have collected funds on their accounts.

“As most African startups, we have been bootstrapping, but starting from early June, we shall start looking into a progressive investing partner with a record of investing at the early stage and seed level of many African startups that are changing the lives of millions of people,” said Mugenga.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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