Forbes recently featured Cameroonian born Yves Bollanga, who is responsible for bringing Afro-Caribbean content to mainstream television entertainment in the United States, stating that Sub-Saharan Africans are “quietly but steadfastly establishing themselves as one of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial groups in the U.S.” Here are excerpts:
The former IBM engineer is building an ambitious family of television channels currently reaching over 21 million households and growing. He is at the vanguard of bridging the cultural gap amongst all the Black communities by bringing Afro-Caribbean content to mainstream America, one TV channel at a time.
“There is an unfulfilled demand for Black content on TV in North America. Our vision is to produce and broadcast Afro-centric original content to as many devices and households as we possibly can.” explained Bollanga.
A serial media entrepreneur, Bollanga founded his first company AB ROLL, a video production house in Tours, France in 1995. In 1998, with his childhood friend, Constant Nemale (founder of Africa24, a 24/7 African News channel based in Paris, France), he created Telesud, the first Pan-African television channel currently available throughout Europe and Africa. In 2005, under Bollanga’s leadership, Telesud launched in the U.S on DISH, the second largest U.S satellite operator with over 14 million subscribers.
In 2008, with his longtime Pakistani-American partner Shafquat Chaudhary, they formed Soundview Africa and launched Afrotainment Movies on DISH, a general entertainment channel broadcasting African movies (mainly Nollywood, the second largest movie industry in the world in terms of number of movies released), series, realities and talk shows. With Soundview Africa, Bollanga’s goal was to create a company whose core business is to edit, broadcast and distribute Afro-centric multi-platforms television channels. Afrotainment Movies quickly became the premier platform for watching Nollywood movies on TV in the U.S.
“Afrotainment was created to act as a cultural bridge amongst all the Black communities: Caribbean, Black American, Black Hispanic, mixed racial heritage or African immigrants,” commented Bollanga from Afrotainment’s 7,000 square feet, state-of-the-art, HD studio in Orlando, Florida. Afrotainment also operates out of a 32,000 square foot digital broadcast center in New York City in collaboration with Soundview Broadcasting, a leading distributor of Bollywood and South-East Asian content. In 2009, the second channel, Afrotainment Music, launched on DISH as a 24/7 music channel showcasing popular African music genres. Afrotainment Music resonated with the younger generation quickly due to the high quality music videos from popular Afro-Caribbean artists.