How Africa's biggest digital media company is developing young talent across the continent
Ringier Africa is the leading diversified digital media company in Africa. It operates the leading classifieds platforms, new media publisher and new marketing & digital services provider across the continent.
Practically, this means that Ringier enables small merchants in Dakar, to sell their offerings to a large audience via its Expat-Dakar platform, inform and entertain millions in Lagos via its Pulse news site and bring large businesses and SMEs online in Nairobi with the help of its digital provider Ringier Digital Marketing. These are just some examples in a portfolio of many brands, platforms and businesses.Overall, Ringier Africa’s business is marked by three characteristics:
First, its businesses are focused on the digital space. While its 185-year old parent company Ringier AG is also running traditional media - newspapers and radio stations in Switzerland, in Africa, Ringier has been convinced from the start, 5 years ago, that digital poses big opportunities. Many of the challenges for businesses in Africa, from media distribution to logistics, payments and more can be helped or even leapfrogged by technology.
Second, Ringier Africa often works with the informal sector, enabling it and advancing it, in a bid to formalize it. This is true for the merchant selling products on Expat-Dakar with a guarantee for the customer or the freelance writer on Pulse with a formal contract. With a large part of the African economy still being in the informal sector, digitization is a true enabler of formalization with benefits of higher security, taxation abilities by the government and more.
Finally, Ringier Africa’s businesses employ 700 mostly young people in 10 countries. With an average age of under 30 years old, Ringier in Africa can truly be called a young company. In the digital space this comes with great advantages as young people have grown up with digital tools and are naturally eager to learn more about them.
This is crucial for Ringier in Africa as its business is fully based on our people and their talent to inspire others: through their online writing, filming, coding, marketing planning and more. While many of them have already gone through formal education when coming to Ringier, some have simply been spotted doing great work online and have been brought in.
Ringier therefore spends a lot of time working with its young teams to develop their existing talents further. It does so in various ways. On the one hand, it brings learnings from its international operations in Switzerland, Eastern Europe and Asia, where it has invested a lot of money in becoming a digital front runner, into its African markets. For example, Ringier is a leader in the classifieds marketplace space in Europe and works with its teams in Africa on how to successfully scale the monetization of their platforms as it has done in Europe.
On the other hand, Ringier can through its network have internal and external experts visit these markets to work with the teams and do intensive training sessions on-ground.
A recent example is the visit of renowned journalist Kai Diekmann, ex-Editor-in-Chief of the German Bild-newspaper in West Africa, working with the team of Ringier’s new media publisher Pulse in Nigeria and Ghana on digital journalism.
Thirdly, Ringier tries to enable self-learning in its businesses. For example, last year it launched free use of Lynda.com, for its employees – and online platform for training courses in all type of disciplines.
In addition to working with its own employees, Ringier has developed the Ringier Digital Marketing (RDM) Academy to train young people to make use of digital technology for their or their employer’s businesses. Many of the people that have already taken the course have done so to support their own business. And their use of digital will surely be a big push for them in growing and further formalizing their business.