A mention of video streaming platforms conjures up prominent names like Netflix and Hulu. And while these platforms are go-to services for trending shows and movies, they leave many niche genres untouched. It’s what inspired Damola Obaleke, the entrepreneur behind the up-and-coming streaming platform AfroWatch.
Dedicated to African animation across all genres, AfroWatch will serve as a hub for movies, shows, and other mediums. As Damola Obaleke explains, “We are the first company to stream African animation from every region in Africa in African languages on one platform. There’s an emerging market of African animation and a demand for representation of Africa in the animation industry.”
Classmates Turned Business Partners
According to Damola Obaleke, the inspiration for AfroWatch first came from his younger brother and his love for anime. While many Japanese and American anime shows have gone mainstream, finding anime from African creators or in African languages was almost impossible. But as a technologist, Damola, who describes himself as a serial technologist, quickly recognized the opportunity.
A full-stack software engineer by trade, Damola Obaleke has supported engineering efforts at several companies. However, he is not new to the role of founder. Damola previously co-founded Eazifunds, a fintech company, who’s focus was building an equity-focused crowdfunding app for African businesses, along with Immersia, a software company set to close the gap between the mind’s eye and the palm of our hands with his long term college friend Adegbolade Adebote. He earned his undergraduate degree in Electronic & Computer Engineering from Loughborough University, Certified in Applications programming from UCLA and is undergoing an Msc in computer science from Irvine, California’s Westcliff University.
But Damola Obaleke did not set out on his entrepreneurial journey alone. Long-time friend and classmate Ikechukwu Collins would become Damola Obaleke’s co-founder and the company’s CTO. With a rich background in software engineering and artificial intelligence, Collins has worked for leading companies such as Quantexa and Sankore Investments. He graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in mechanical engineering before pursuing a master’s program at the University of St. Andrews, where he studied artificial intelligence and software engineering.
Bringing African Culture to Life Through Animation
Together, the pair bring almost a decade of experience in software development to their work at AfroWatch. But more importantly, there is a shared passion for the streaming platform’s mission. Beyond simple entertainment, AfroWatch is a way to connect younger generations back to their cultural roots, including language and creative arts. The platform celebrates diversity and the many talented African artists, writers, producers, and other creators.
“The problem we’re trying to solve is the lack of representation of Africa in the animation industry, and imbibing the mother tongue in newer generation africans,” says Obaleke. “We’re trying to not only showcase it but also grow it.
AfroWatch’s team is working to bring African stories to the forefront, inspiring the next generation and bridging cultural divides through the magic of animation. The streaming platform is set to launch for public use in February 2024. Interested viewers can sign up for updates about AfroWatch’s upcoming launch at afrowatch.co.