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Harambeans 14th Class Entrepreneur Scales Up Africa’s First Audio Library App

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Preserving the continent’s heritage through digital storytelling

South African entrepreneur, Arlene Mulder, used the time and space afforded by the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown to bring BiB to life, Africa’s first audio library app, hosting exclusive content from the continent.  Pivoting to home-recording technologies, BiB continued their plans to facilitate the production of African storytelling by acclaimed voice artists and launched their app on both App Store and Google Play by the end of the year. Since then BiB has also announced a new partnership with Africa’s biggest publisher, Naspers-owned NB Publishers enabling them to access their entire catalogue of African writers for transformation into digital audio formats. 

In addition to BiB produced theatre pieces, children’s theatre and series, over 60 titles from NB Publishers are now available to listeners. “We’re delighted to include works from best-selling writers such as Deon Meyer and Dalene Matthee read by some of South Africa’s best actors and voice artists like June van Merch and Stian Bam.” Says Mulder.

“Other highlights currently on the platform are Malcolm Gooding’s memoir, Confessions of a Voice Artist which takes the listener through a golden era in radio, when shows like Squad Cars and Jet Jungle held young and old spellbound,” says Mulder. “A new addition to our theatre portfolio is Elisha Zeeman’s Die Onvaarskynlike Verhaal van Miko – an Afrikaans satirical children’s cabaret with an original soundtrack. We have also launched a kid’s section and we have various productions underway such as Pieter Jacobus Bosman’s Veldfabels and Jaco Jacob’s ‘n Goeie Dag vir Boomklim.” 

Under the creative direction of BiB co-founder Juanita Kotzé, exciting new theatre, series and children’s theatre are in development. These include; Buhle Ncgaba’s Girl Without A Sound, which will be published in all 11 vernaculars.  Zolani Mahola’s one-woman show The One Who Sings, along with  a melodic Xhosa children stories & lullabies series, soon to make airwaves. In collaboration with Jo-Ann Strauss & Amy Kleynhans-Curd The Brave Girl Collection, short stories about legendary women from Africa are in creation. A selection of sketches by award-winning author and playwright Chase Rhys, previously published in Rapport under the name of Suikewate, will be released in May 2021. 

In its ongoing documenting of African literature, and theatre productions, BiB is providing a vital source of job creation for artists whose livelihoods have been severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. 

“BiB’s mission is to bring the richness of Africa’s story-telling heritage to the world and through our strategic partnerships with content creators, authors and publishers we aim to present the extraordinary diversity of African voices.  We’re a SA start-up with a Pan-African focus, and we plan to go beyond this country’s 11 official languages and borders to feature content from across the continent, and the African diaspora abroad.  We believe that our tech platform is ideal for preserving and promoting Africa’s deep storytelling culture and traditions, protecting African stories into the long future for generations to come.” 

Arlene Mulder

This year, Mulder was selected into the 14th Class of the prestigious Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, a global Alliance of over 300 African entrepreneurs who collaborate across the continent to unlock Africa’s potential and drive prosperity.  She says, “It is an honour to join a group of inspirational thought leaders and pioneers who are all passionate about building Africa’s future. At BiB, we are telling Africa’s stories and we are truly inspired and humbled by the journeys of our fellow Harambeans. We are also looking forward to learning more on how we can scale our rich story-telling library at BiB to truly represent the entire continent. We truly resonate with the Harambean declaration, that ‘the Africa our generation desires can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is ours.’

Okendo Lewis-Gayle, Founder and Chairman of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance himself narrated his first book ‘Harambeans: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things’ which is now available on BiB.

At the end of April, BiB will launch its first subscription offering. At R159.99 per month, BiB is more affordable than competitors and uses leading edge file compression technology to reduce data costs for listeners. Users of the BiB platform have the advantage of getting the best of African storytelling, conveyed exclusively by African voices on the devices they most prefer. To listen to this inspiring account of African innovation, and much more, the BiB app can be downloaded at App Store and Google Play.  Visit www.mybib.africa

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