Hivisasa’s Demise Adds To The Rising Body Count Of Digital-Only Media Firms That Can’t Cut It In Kenya
Another day, another story of a Kenyan digital-only media company throwing in the towel.
After six years of reporting on Kenya’s counties and national politics, and delivering several other kinds of hyperlocal content through its network of 1500+ freelance writers, Hivisasa has closed shop.
According to the co-founder and CEO, Chloe Spoerry, the media company is calling it quits because been it has been unable to identify a viable path to significant revenues and profitability via its advertisement-led business model.
Hivisasa was famously piloted in 2012 by the seed fund, 88mph, and officially launched in January 2014. In June 2015, Luminate and Novastar Ventures invested in Hivisasa.com.
Before the hard decision to close down, Hivisasa claims to have grown a steady audience of 2 million monthly readers, peaking at 6.1 million.
A statement published by Omondi Otieno on the company’s website a few hours ago reads: “Despite growing its audience and impact, Hivisasa has, like many other publishers globally, been unable to identify a viable advertisement-led business model.
“As a result, we have made the hard decision to close down the current model of local news production, in order to explore new ideas and opportunities. “
The brief statement ends with the company’s CEO and co-founder expressing gratitude to the team and the band of readers it garnered through the years.
— Hivisasa (@HiviSasa) January 29, 2020
Famed for its fervent social activism demonstrated through its original county stories, which drive collective action and civic engagement, Hivisasa is undoubtedly an unfortunate casualty of the tough, keenly-contested, and cut-throat space that is Kenya’s media sector.
In November 2019, Zumi, a popular digital-only company in Kenya, was forced to quit the business after failing to cut it.
Launched in 2016, Zumi had raised over USD 250 K from UAE-based Majlis Investment and a few other investors. Founded by ex-Rocket Internet employees, William McCarren and Sabrina Dorman, Zumi was planning to pivot into an eCommerce platform as advertising revenue didn’t pick up.
But that never materialised. The company eventually announced that it was shutting down via its social media pages.
There has been a lot of debate in Kenya about why digital media platforms are struggling to survive even when the digital wave has hit the country. And a lot has been attributed to the lack of awareness about native advertisement and performance metrics by the advertisers.
Plus advertisement revenue seems to be on the decline in Kenya (usually one of the continent’s hottest advertisement markets), which makes a solely advertisement-based business model untenable for digital-only media companies in the country at this time.
Kenya, as a consumer market, has been flooded with international brands but how the population consumes awareness about these products appears to still rest on the traditional methods.
In any case, advertisers cannot afford to ignore that the population is getting younger by the day and digital is likely going to become the most preferred medium of content consumption in no distant time.