He’s one of Africa’s leading Internet entrepreneurs. As the founder and CEO of digital marketing company, Wild Fusion, Abasiama Idaresit is an African trendsetter whose work is helping to transform the way companies market to Internet users on the continent.
In August 2013, he made Forbes‘ list of ‘Ten African Internet Millionaires to Watch;’ not bad for a businessman from Nigeria who started his company on a gift of $250 in 2010. Three years later, Wild Fusion is set to make close to $10 million dollars by the end of the year. With a growing client list that includes Visa, Vodafone and Samsung, the company is just beginning to break digital ground. And for Abasiama, who is passionate about Africa and the Internet, the success is a dream come true.
In this recent interview with Africa.com, Abasiama shares his thoughts on ‘Africa’s rise’ and some advice for young leaders eager to make a difference.
AFRICA.COM: What does Africa mean to you?
ABASIAMA: Africa is the birth place of civilization, and within her boundaries, I believe, are solutions to some of the world’s pressing problems including environmental, food security and poverty.
“Africa gave humanity the first use of fire, astronomy, fishing, mathematics. She is the cradle of civilization.”
AFRICA.COM: How did you become a leader within the space you operate in?
ABASIAMA: By being very passionate, enjoying what I do, and most importantly, by remaining optimistic despite so many difficulties.
AFRICA.COM: There are two common narratives: “Africa is Rising” and “Africa Needs Aid”. Which is it, or could it be both?
ABASIAMA: No it can’t be both, Africa is definitely rising but it doesn’t need aid to rise. I am on Dambisa Moyo (author of Dead Aid)’s side on this. I strongly believe we need more trade, businesses, partnerships, human and physical infrastructure. If what has been spent on Aid in the past 20 years was invested in developing trade, education, infrastructure and facilitating commerce, it would have had a more positive impact than aid. Without any external investment or aid and with just $250 bootstrapping all the way, we have built [Wild Fusions] across three countries with revenue in millions of dollars employing Africans and empowering African brands. This has been in one of the world’s most hostile business environment.
“Given the right environment and resources, Africans can succeed without aid but [they] need to be taught to fish and not to be fed.”
AFRICA.COM: What do you see being the role of the African diaspora living in the United States and other parts of the globe?
ABASIAMA: Africans in the diaspora are a critical part of our development process. With annual remittance at a record high, I strongly believe they can help drive businesses, investment in the continent and deploy their skills in resolving many of our social problems [They can also] participate in the politics, drive commerce, help draft policies, lobby western governments and contribute to the development of the continent.
AFRICA.COM: You’re part of what is being called a “new generation of leaders” – what does that mean to you?
ABASIAMA: It’s a big responsibility; it’s a call to action. We have to utilize our skills and expertise in a socially responsible way to address some of our most pressing problems.
“We must inspire our kinsmen to look beyond the now and see the big picture. If we don’t roll up our sleeves and get dirty, no one else will.”
AFRICA.COM: What is your message to young Africans wanting to make a difference, but are not sure where to start?
ABASIAMA: It’s very simple. Follow your passion, what is that one thing you love doing? Even if you cant commercialize it, you will still be involved in it. Make this sustainable and put everything you have into it. Make it grow bigger than you and do empower others as you grow.
Follow Abasiama on Twitter: @Abasiama