When you hit rock bottom, there two options; remain stuck or get up and carry on.
That was the case with John Fatanmi. He is a Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at City Scope Africa.
We had over an hour on a phone conversation. We discussed the situation in the country and his part in changing her image positively.
Can we get to know you?
”I am John Fatanmi, fondly called JGold by sobriquet. I am a TEDx Speaker, Media Entrepreneur and Magazine Publisher.
”I lead the team at City Scope Africa as a Cofounder and the Chief Executive.
”I am also the Convener of the annual African Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs Conference (formerly Boot Camp) in Sub-Saharan Africa, precisely in Lagos-Nigeria, for sometimes now (four editions so far).”
It’s great to finally have you here after so much effort to get an interview date with you. Can you share more about City Scope?
”The pleasure has always been mine. Thanks for reaching out. I need to quickly say that the brand is now registered with the nomenclature ’City Scope Africa’ (formerly City Scope Ng) and not ’City Scope’
”City Scope Africa is a pan African media platform with the commitment of showcasing excellence in people of African descent and shining the spotlights on beautiful places of interest in Africa.
”At City Scope Africa our sole aim is to inspire people (largely of African Descent) to strive for excellence in major facets of human endeavours and become what they intentionally want to be, by reading about the winning stories and strategies of Africans doing small things (sometimes big things) in profoundly transformative ways.
”Another core mandate of ours, is to uncover and harness the untapped potentials of Africa’s rich and diverse cultures by showcasing
beautiful destinations in Africa for adventure travel and corporate tourism through AFROTOURISM.
”Afrotourism is a vital component of our local economies. It will contribute to African tourism development and change the existing narrative held about the continent, over the years.”
You are on a great mission. What actually led you into this?
”When I visited Dubai and the oil richest Emirate of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, in the year 2014, I was asked to pay about 4,000 Dirhams (over 350,000 Naira) for ordinary pleasure – horse riding. This got me mad, especially when I saw Nigerians paying. Yet, back at home, we could barely pay 1,000 Naira to see the statue of Eyo Masquerade in Lagos or Moremi statue at Ile Ife, Osun State or the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Calabar and beautiful mountain at Uganda.
”Also, when you meet Emiratis (the name for UAE Nationals) on the streets of UAE, you are accosted and asked, are you from Africa? When you respond in the affirmative.. they are quick to say ’Oh Africa, Corruption and Football.’
”They mention names like Jay Jay Okocha and Rashidi Yekini. I tried to answer annoyingly, that Nigeria is not just about football and some African leaders may be corrupt but we have a whole of other beautiful things in Africa that the western media world do not showcase.
I also remind them that Africa is not a country but a continent with a lot of opportunities for all of us.
I later realized from vox populi that Rasheed Yekini sometimes played for an Abu Dhabi club.
”All these informed taking City Scope Africa up a notch, even though, I have started lowkey in 2011 before visiting the Emirates.
”Chinedu, frankly speaking, the western world knows little or nothing about Africa. More often than not, Africa is always in the bad news of the western media. What is known is that there are jungles, big animals, corruption, poverty and Malaria. This sums up the world’s ‘narrative’ of this great continent, AFRICA, over the years.. At City Scope Africa, we are using our indigenous media to change such agelong ‘narrative’.”
I can imagine. It is definitely sad when I hear or read bad stories about Africa especially Nigeria. I must commend you for taking a bold step towards it. But if I may ask, what has been your major challenge to achieving your goals with City Scope Africa?
”A whole lot but I will dwell on a few. Solely setting out in 2011, I had challenges ranging from brand acceptance to finance. I started just with magazine publication (known back then and registered as City Scope Magazine). At that time I was a final year student of the Federal University of Technology in Akure, South West Nigeria. It was very rough setting out alone. The Vision was not very clear, I must confess. So, it was difficult to sell the Vision to some of my colleagues back then.
”I struggled with making it an entertainment and lifestyle magazine. I had to beg a lot of small and medium scale firms in Akure to place adverts on the magazine (it was printed hard copy back then). In Fact, I had to print 1000 copies each time and I didn’t have the financial purchasing power as a student. I skipped lectures to travel down to Lagos to print and pay graphics designer. That wasn’t sustainable again, I got stuck financially and had to persuade some friends to work with me based on pro bono.
”I remember inviting my biological younger brother (from the same father and mother) to work on the graphics of the magazine pro bono too. In return, I encouraged him to take his designs up a notch and he is today a Cofounder at Fourthcanvas. (A design agency that worked on the campaign Three of the African Presidents).
”I remember giving up on magazine publication for some 3years, after having about three magazine hardcopy publications to my credit (It was an annual publication back then)
”Technically, it is very tough to be an entrepreneur in this clime.
”I picked my vision up again in 2016 from where I left it in 2014 while in Nigeria, before moving to the UAE (I initially visited but got distracted with a job offer from an Abu Dhabi Emirati).
”I encountered some challenges again and made some pathetic mistakes through to 2017.
”I later realized that vision is progressive and it will grow with a collaborative strategy. God reveals visions in phases, and they are usually fulfilled in phases.
”I also suddenly realized that I will always need to raise a company of people to accompany me in your vision. Since I have been struggling with it, I will need to communicate my vision within my little circle of influence.
”So I had to revise and recast my vision to myself. I evaluated and did some appraisals and realigned. So I noticed I was not still on course. I invited a partner to join me. Fast forward to 2018, I have four guys on my team, some are investors and one of them is a Cofounder today.
”That was how I overcame those challenges. New challenges are showing up though, but we have amicable ways to tackle them, now as a team.
”Challenges are useful part of Vision. Challenges have a way of baking you strong. Aliko Dangote said “Life would be very boring without challenges”. So, we shouldn’t pray off challenges but pray for stronger backs to withstand when they arise.”
What a mission. You are definitely going to make a history with your vision and I hope many will be inspired by your work. Last Boot Camp, I learned that Toyin F Sanni is your Patron, how were you able to convince a strong woman and great personality like her to buy into your vision?
”Well, that is just the assumption in the minds of everyone. Toyin Sanni is neither our Matron nor Sponsor.
”As a matter of fact, I have not even met her before in my life (she was duly represented at the last Boot Camp by her Compliance Officer at Emerging Africa Capital Group Ikoyi). All of the Speakers at the Boot Camp 4 (now Conference), we were meeting them for the first time.
”We have a special way of making friends virtually, using our massive online network, LinkedIn especially.
”I think our Vision and Mission get people attracted to us. It is not easy to combine two big things together. At City Scope Africa we publish monthly magazines and hold conferences annually, aside from other things we do discreetly to impact. Let me acquaint you in details with the two major things.
”City Scope Africa is the parent body to City Scope Africa Magazine, and City Scope Africa Academy
”City Scope Africa Magazine (A Publication of City Scope Africa) was birthed out of the need to celebrate outstanding achievements and showcase excellence in people who have risen (and striving) to the very zenith of their careers and have positively affected their societies, in their chosen endeavours.
”City Scope Africa Academy is an Academy, connecting young professionals and entrepreneurs in Africa, where conversations around business, lifestyle and Nation building are made. The Academy organizes the annual African Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs Conference.
”Yes, there are some we had to reach out to, virtually, just like we did to Prof. Ndubuisi who was not available to speak at the last Boot Camp 4 (now Conference). Hopefully, he will join us at the 2020 African Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs Conference 5.”
What should we expect from City Scope Africa in the next five years?
”Sincerely speaking I am not good at projections, just the way my Vision of City Scope Africa (formerly City Scope Ng) wasn’t clear to me at inception. Life just happened.
”For me, there is no clear model or blueprint for the next five years but I remember my Cofounder (who also doubles as our COO) saying that our two appendages (City Scope Africa Magazine and City Scope Africa Academy) will take new dimensions. I don’t want to share for public consumption for now because of our competitors. (joking, that is just on a lighter note).
”That said, quite frankly, our initiative, the African Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs Conference will grow to become the largest gathering of business professionals (budding and successful) and captains of industries in Africa in the next five years or less.
”I also believe that the Africa of our dream is possible and achievable. I don’t have a timeline for that African dream though but I know it will happen in our lifetime, someday and very soon.”
My last question for you, in which area would you need help from the government or private organization?
”Obviously, we need support (most especially conference sponsorship) from government, corporate bodies and/or high networth individuals for our annual conference, especially as we plan the 2020 AFRICAN BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS AND ENTREPRENEURS CONFERENCE 5 in Lagos-Nigeria.
”You see, Africa is one of the richest continents on earth, full of natural resources starting from enormous manpower, famous for its cultural heritage and hospitality and attracts tourism for its beautiful nature.
”Hence businessmen from around the globe are eyeing Africa to be their next profitable investment destination.
”Africa’s thriving business market is still considered young compared to other Asian, American or European markets; which makes it a great opportunity for businessmen and entrepreneurs.
”So, we want to prepare our people for the emerging opportunities. I sincerely look forward to a conference where we do not have to ask anyone to pay for registration (Hopefully looking at year 2020 edition and going forward). If we get enough sponsors, then it will be a free entry for all, especially budding entrepreneurs and young business professionals. That will also afford them the opportunity to pitch winning ideas to potential investors.
”Africa is a continent, with shared prosperity for all of us, not just in tourism but particularly in business and entrepreneurship.
”Potential supporters and partners can check the pictures of the August 2019 Conference 4 (formerly Boot Camp here) http://bit.ly/bootcampictures and download our October 2019 Magazine Edition here http://cityscope.africa/magazine/
”You can also subscribe to our monthly magazine via the magazine link. For further enquiries, Magazine Adverts placement and Conference Sponsorship/Partnership, you can shoot us an email to [email protected]
”Lastly, Chinedu many thanks for having me. I didn’t take the opportunity to be interviewed for granted. Thanks to the Tekedia Media team at large, for reaching out to me.”