[Interview] Adisa Amanor-Wilks, Founder, Abjel Communications, UK
Adisa Amanor-Wilks is an international journalist and communications professional with over 17 years’ experience. She is founder of Abjel Communications, a media and public relations agency keen on positioning Africa on the global stage.
Could you introduce your company and tell us how it got started?
Africa needs its home-grown communicators to stand up and own their stories; to counter dominant narratives in order to clear a path for self-respect and sustainable development. This includes positioning African experts to participate in discussions about global issues. Positive communication is a vehicle for investor confidence, tourism and a general global feel good about our continent.
We are at a point where the African continent needs these elements to leapfrog a whole generation to prosperity - what an opportunity for our communicators! With careful planning, thought and strategy, we can begin to influence the role of communications and the material outcome of those communications. This is why Abjel Communications was founded.
We are Africa’s first social enterprise communications agency. We work with startups, entrepreneurs, NGOs, charities, and companies to improve their communications. With expertise in media relations and an impressive understanding of the African consumer market, we want to use our communications skills to promote and celebrate good and sustainable work in Africa. As a social enterprise, we reinvest our profits in the organisations we support. For most startups, financial and personnel pressures mean that communications receives the least attention. But we believe that from the onset when a startup’s idea is viable, they should also begin to plan on how to spread their story not only locally, but also to a global audience.
Where is Abjel Communications located?
Our headquarters is in London, UK, with remote teams in Accra, Dakar and Cairo.
When was it founded and by who?
I founded Abjel in 2004. Recently the company was incorporated in the United Kingdom.
How is it funded?
I fund this company and all our remote operations through savings, family/friends support and profits from our services.
What are your company’s Unique Selling Points?
Hundreds of new businesses today in Africa are startups. Small startups founded by daring and visionary young people. Ever heard of bootstrapping? Yes, most of these startups are using personal savings to fund their visions and ideas. Many of these entrepreneurs ask me “Adisa, when is the right time for us to start any public relations (PR)? My reply to them is, your PR started when you decided to launch your business - the moment you named your company, designed a logo, put up a website and revealed yourself on social media.”
We are the first public relations social enterprise in Africa. We know that PR needs to be done differently, especially when it comes to our target market- enterpreneurs. With expertise in media relations and an impressive understanding of the African consumer market, we want to use our communications skills to promote and celebrate good and sustainable work in Africa. As a social enterprise, we reinvest our profits in the organisations we support, giving them the right tools and support on their business communications journey.
How has the market responded to your services?
We’ve had a fantastic welcome into the market. This is a niche market with many entrepreneurs seeking support with little or sometimes no budget to pursue the part of the business that they know needs attention. We’ve gone in there giving a different solution to the communications challenge. Some of our work is done pro-bono depending on the business and how useful we think it is to solving a dire problem on the continent.
We’ve been noted as an innovative communications consultancy model which suits the new business movement on the continent.
The more we expose our startup community to the opportunities that public relations can bring to not only themselves and their businesses, but to a whole generation on the continent, the more appreciative they are of our services.
Who are your clients?
Developers in Vogue, Women In Tech Africa, Densu Online Market Place, Africa All Access, Food For all Africa, Africa Diaspora Network, Konnect to Africa, Africa Centre for Economic Transformation(ACET) etc. In the past we’ve also worked with the World Bank, Voluntary Services Overseas and Plan International. There is more information on our website.
What are the ambitions of Abjel Communications?
We know that Africa is full of communicators, yet on the global stage we struggle to project our story. We all understand the world we live in through narratives - joined up sequences of stories that shape perceptions, expectations and to a large extent our actions.
In the short term we want to be the go-to consultancy for 90% of the startup community in or with interest in Africa. Our goal is to support them to be able to communicate their solutions to a global audience and to be able to compete effectively in the global startup ecosystem.
We also know that the startup ecosystem in Africa and the diaspora is only going to grow, and we want to be ready when this happens. As our startup clients grow into multimillion-dollar businesses, we want to be able to also rise to the occassion to deliver the kind of communications tools that would be needed for that kind of business in the future.
What does your company need to grow and prosper?
We need to keep developing and modifying our offering to keep up with the changing environment. Our human and capital resources must be able to withstand the changing nature of the industry, and yet continue to be true to our core value of delivering a social benefit.
What's the latest news from Abjel Communications?
We’ve just joined the largest social enterprise network in the world, Social Enterprise UK. The movement has more than 10,000 members keen to solve the world’s biggest problems, and we’re proud to be part of one of the fastest growing communities poised to deliver a different kind of business. Find that announcement here.
We’ve also just started sponsoring a platform that wants to give profile to Africans building Africa. We are very pleased that we can support a colleague who is dedicating himself to changing the narrative surrounding Africa.
Africa Business Communities is conducting a series of interviews with (startup) businesses in Africa.
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