Africa’s Isis Nyong’o is Working Hard to Connect the Continent

June 13, 2012  |  

At 35, Kenya native Isis Nyong’o has already held senior management positions at MyJobsEye (Kenya’s leading job site), MTV and Google. Now the Stanford and Harvard grad is working to take on a slightly new challenge as the vice president and managing director of the African operations at InMobi, the largest independent mobile advertising network in the world.

“InMobi is in the business of connecting brands to consumers through their mobile devices,” she said to Forbes.  “In simple terms we partner with developers who have created applications (or software) for mobile phones, and publishers who have mobile websites such as news or sports websites. We then find brands who want to advertise something to these people visiting these mobile websites or using these applications, and we display their banner adverts on these platforms. We then pay the publisher or developer a percentage of the revenue that was received from the advertiser.”

And the InMobi business is working. Currently, each month the network reaches 35 million consumers month in Africa and serves over eight billion ad impressions.

Nyong’o’s job to stay on top of the operations of the company’s millions of African consumers is no easy task. Every week, Nyong’o says she may be in five different countries sitting in on various meetings and conferences. As InMobi is a global company based in San Francisco, the meetings can take place at any time of the day. Still, Nyong’o enjoys the work.

“I find media and tech to be the most exciting and challenging industries in Africa,” she said to Forbes. “This is where the level and speed of innovation is at its highest; when it comes to media, the continent is experiencing the same paradigm shift facing global media houses.”

According to Nyong’o, InMobi research shows that “Africans (South Africa 79%, Kenya 89%) are more receptive to mobile advertising than consumers are in the rest of the World (66%).” With Africa’s growing influence on the technology scene, Nyong’o is working to ensure consumers on the continent will feel an economic change.

“My long term goals are to grow the mobile eco-system in many more African countries,” she said. Currently the main players are Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Egypt, so we have many places to help grow this eco-system. By growing the mobile eco-system, many jobs are created which in turn enriches the lives of Africans.

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