DURBAN-based tech company, immedia has invested R10 million to help African media entrepreneurs to build sustainable community radio by taking a leap into the digital future.
The aim is to equip them with Fabrik, a set of cloud-enabled digital tools that empower media entities to live-stream shows, grow and engage with audiences around the world, and benefit financially by monetising their audiences.
The 25-year-old company, which has the backing of Microsoft and the Industrial Development Corporation, has been developing their Fabrik technology since 2017. It is already being used by 15 commercial clients, including radio stations Gagasi FM, Smile 90.4FM and YFM.
Now, as part of its Digital Leap programme, immedia will be giving its platform to qualifying media entrepreneurs across Africa for free for a year. This includes consultation, training and support to help monetize the technology, cumulatively valued at R10 million.
Phil Molefe, a veteran of broadcast radio in South Africa, Fabrik’s Head of Business Development & Strategy, said the programme was key to the company’s vision to spearhead media transformation. He says the uptake of Fabrik by energetic entrepreneurs at community radio stations showed how empowering the suite of digital tools is.
“It enables them to deepen their relationship with their audience and monetise it sustainably because the quality of their engagement with listeners is meaningful.”
Molefe noted that while community media is often under-resourced and struggles to retain skills, the company’s case studies have shown that it is more than possible for them to thrive – and that the
Digital Leap programme is the kind of opportunity they need and can succeed on.
He added that Fabrik has a range of users, and about 60% of their listeners have an opt-in relationship with their broadcasters. “By building and growing owned communities, stations then stand to benefit financially by serving highly relevant ads to their digital listeners. In addition, where sales conversions on social media are around 2%, Fabrik users enjoy 8%.”
Tamie Mbombo, head of Marketing and PR at Izwi loMzansi, one of the largest community radio stations in South Africa, says that the platform had revolutionised the station’s engagement with its listeners, and has led the digital charge with featured podcasts and integrated advertising campaigns on the Izwi mobile app.
“Community media’s aim is to provide trusted information and expression, and Fabrik has helped do that,” he said.