Uche Pedro is founder of BellaNaija.com, a company that develops and delivers exciting online content aimed at Nigerian and Pan-African audiences. Uche’s savvy grasp of media trends has led to BellaNaija.com becoming the go-to lifestyle, entertainment and fashion portal in Africa. Her website has established a loyal following amongst the young, cosmopolitan, upwardly mobile set in Nigeria, with over 1 million unique visitors and 9 million page views each month.
BellaNaija was founded in July 2006 by Uche and began as a hobby. The idea for establishing BellaNaija came whilst she was studying at university in Canada. She had two weeks holiday and soon got bored. She had always loved Nigeria and Africa, and each time she returned to the country for a holiday or on visits from school or work, she saw how everything in Nigeria was growing – the fashion was more vibrant, the entertainment was more vibrant, more young people were getting involved in politics, business, etc and it was so encouraging. So she was inspired to start something that represented this exciting young vibe in the country – she began to blog about fashion and celebrity in Nigeria and BellaNaija was born. She started by scanning magazine articles, pictures and interviews of Nigerian fashion personalities and continued in a low profile way until her BellaNaija portal began to have over 1 million hits every month, at which time she unveiled the personality behind the portal to the media. Since that time, it has grown in leaps and bounds and today the BellaNaija portal has over 1 million unique visitors. When the portal was initially launched, a lot of our visitors came from around the world, from the diaspora, but now Nigeria is the number one country on the BellaNaija visitor list. It just shows that today, more people have internet access, and people are interested in what is going on around them. The site has visitors from around the African continent, from South Africa, Ghana and other countries.
On achieving commercial success with BellaNaija, Uche says: “In terms of the commercialization of the site, in the early days of BellaNaija, it was hard work to generate revenues but we managed to break even and saw the portal as a first step to building something much larger down the line.”
BellaNaija is also an initiative with a social conscience and the site is used as a platform for social activism and commentary on various political issues and campaigns, such as the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign which aimed to lobby the government on the unreliable power situation and its high costs in Nigeria.
Today, the BellaNaija portal is one of the top 100 sites in Nigeria and continues to grow its visitor base, attracting fashion savvy audiences who want to spend time on a portal that understands fashion, trends, music and celebrity red carpet action. It has a young team of bloggers and reporters who create over 90% of the content uploaded to the site. BellaNaija is now a viable commercial social media brand, a household name and a new media force to be reckoned with in Nigeria.