Filmmaker and entrepreneur, Tony Abulu. Photo/Prweb
In an unprecedented, innovative strategy to attract the $21 billion yearly remittances from Nigerians in diaspora, filmmaker and entrepreneur, Tony Abulu, has created a symbiotic relationship between Financial Technology (Fintech) and Nigerian creative industry, writes.
Tony Abulu is not a new figure in the culture, creative industry (CCI).
For over 35 years, he has been involved in the Nigerian entertainment sector, establishing the first Nigerian Music Festival, USA in 1990; facilitating the U.S. tour of the National Troupe of Nigeria in 1992 and 1995; as well as establishing the Filmmakers Association of Nigeria, USA, in 2003, which organised the first ever USA tour of 50 Nollywood actors in America, in 2004.
As part of efforts aimed at establishing a viable monetisation opportunity for Nigerian arts and entertainment in the U.S., Abulu achieved the unprecedented opportunity to distribute Nollywood films in mainstream American cinemas with his crossover blockbuster, Doctor Bello.
The Nigerian-American entrepreneur says, “Nigerian filmmakers and artists deserve all the support they can get.
Unfortunately, due to lack of adequate funding, they have not been able to hit the global mainstream and consequently monetise their art.”
According to him, the Nigerian CCI, which comprises performing arts -film, music, theatre – visual and literary arts, fashion and sports, in over a space of two decades, has emerged as the main entertainment industry on the continent.
Abulu believes that over 70 per cent of Nigerian population, the Nigerian youth can benefit directly from real investment in the entertainment sector, especially through digital content monetisation.
For the international film producer, the Nigerian entertainment industry, if well harnessed, can be the largest foreign exchange earner for the country.
“With adequate training and exposure in the right direction of indigenous African content stories, Nigerian filmmakers can easily engage the attention of the entire world,” he explains.
Abulu says many Nigerian filmmakers are well trained technically, “all that remains is, for them to explore deep African stories.”
Unfortunately now, because of lack of adequate budgets, “they are confined to telling simple stories, which may be enjoyed in Africa, but viewed as elementary on the global scene,” he says.
The Nigerian film industry particularly has exploded in the international scene, followed more recently by the music industry, Abulu points out.
“Unfortunately, adequate monetisation has not yet been achieved owing to lack of adequate funding for research, production and global distribution relationship equity.”
After spending years, he jokingly says, ‘since emergence of Nollywood, advocating for proper funding of the arts in Nigeria, Abulu realised that the only hope was to seek funding elsewhere.
This quest has finally resulted in the BlazeMoney Remittance platform.
“Nobody can help us, but us,” he reveals. “We have devised an innovative way to fund the Nigerian entertainment industry.”
Abulu has signed agreements with the bastions of the industry in film, music, fashion and art to present their best content on a global platform, Blaze Channel.
All the content will be viewed globally for free while monetization is achieved through a strategic application with remittances.
After years of negotiations, Abulu was able to sign partnership agreements with the remittance giants, Nobel Financial, USA, as well as Access Bank, FCMB, CP Express and Nigerian tech firm, CeLD, for CashToken insurance rewards for each individual remittance client.
The agreement sets aside 10 per cent of the revenue fees from global remittances into an Endowment Fund for the Nigerian Creative Industry.
Abulu, beaming with confidence, says, “we don’t have to beg anybody for money. Nigerians in diaspora, who remit over $21 billion every year, will save the creative industry, and by extension, 70 per cent of the entire Nigerian population.
If we all work together, the Endowment Fund can hit N3.5 billion every year.
Then with that budget, we can create art that will generate over $100 million a year through our already established global distribution network.”
The BlazeMoney remittances platform goes live on October 1, 2018.