Abiola Alabi is a Nigerian and African media expert passionate about developing the African creative and media scene. Born in the 1970’s in America, the powerhouse studied in the University of Cincinnati graduating with a degree in Public Health and Marketing. On graduating from the University, she remained in the United States of America where she was part of the executive team at the influential children’s television brand Sesame Street and a member of the marketing team that launched the well- respected Korean motor vehicle corporation Daewoo in the USA. She was also among the first 50 staff members that launched the first e-commerce college bookstore and destination site, Bigwords.com, in the U.S. and was a regional marketing manager.
Currently working with her own company, she is the Founder and Managing Partner of Biola Alabi Media. Biola Alabi Media is a dynamic consultancy with expertise in strategic consulting for pay entertainment, digital television, interactive television and emerging entertainment distribution platforms. The consultancy services governments, content creators, telecommunication industry, and investors in the converging media technology space.
She moved back to Nigeria in 2008 and has been actively involved in the media scene in Nigeria. She held an Independent Non-Executive Director role at Unilever Nigeria PLC from December of 2015.
In 2014, she also participated in The Yale World Fellows Flagship Program at Yale University. While she was there, she founded Grooming for Greatness; a leadership development and mentorship program for a new generation of African leaders. Grooming For Greatness is passionate about the next generation of African leadership and is committed to its development and success. By joining this initiative, Fellows gain confidence, build relationships, and expand their professional networks. The program anticipates that these rising corporate and commercial stars will rise to their potential and consequently significantly benefit the African people.
“At the heart of the Grooming for Greatness program is the conviction that with the right information and insight, a mentor, and access to African leaders who epitomise outstanding success, Fellows can create a compelling vision for themselves and begin to expand that vision forward. Napoleon Hill, considered one of the great writers on the topic of success, said, “The starting point of all achievement is desire.” Our Fellows have a passion to lead and a desire to meet their fullest potential.
Individuals accepted into the Grooming for Greatness program receive an unparalleled year of training, mentorship, and personal and professional development that aids them in assuming leadership roles across Africa.”
Mrs. Alabi held the high-profile position of Managing Director for M-Net Africa, part of the globally renowned Naspers Group. In her work with M-Net Africa, she was the catalyst in the change in strategy and subsequently the running of M-Net Africa cementing herself as an icon and helping tell the African story differently to the world. She was also in charge of M-Net’s increasing portfolio on the African continent, most notably by expanding and enhancing the range of AfricaMagic channels available to audiences in sub-Saharan Africa. She also spearheaded the ambitious multi-channel expansion of the hugely popular AfricaMagic brand into an impressive eight channel line-up. Passionate about African film and television, she recently worked to launch the inaugural AfricaMagic Viewers’ Choice Awards, a successful initiative, which is now in its fifth year. Due to her work, M-Net Africa boasts a full range of AfricaMagic channels which are, but not limited to AfricaMagic, AfricaMagic Entertainment, AfricaMagic Movies, AfricaMagic Movies 1, AfricaMagic World, AfricaMagic Hausa, AfricaMagic Swahili and AfricaMagic Yoruba. Also during that time, she oversaw four editions of the massively popular reality super-series Big Brother Africa with audiences turning Big Brother Revolution, All Stars, Amplified, and StarGame into household names. With a clear understanding of how the business of television operates, her experience in acquisition and distribution of content and programming; as well as the positioning and packaging of channels helped push M-Net into the forefront where it is today especially as Multichoice gained market share in the African space. She was appointed Managing Director: Special Projects. In that capacity her portfolio focused primarily on the broadcaster’s flagship productions including but not limited to the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards.
She has spent recent years polishing her knowledge with Executive Education Programs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs. Mrs. Alabi has also spoken globally on the status of the African creative arts industry, the opportunities available on the continent, the success of Nollywood and the need for ongoing investment in infrastructure and skills sharing initiatives. Respected as an expert in her field, her speaking engagements include appearances at the International Women in Digital Media Speaker Series – Women in Film and Television (Toronto) in November 2012 as well as the International Institute of Communications, Telecommunications and Media Forum (Brussels) in March 2014. She is a regular panellist on Africa-related subjects at World Economic Forum meetings. She was named one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa by Forbes Magazine (2012), a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2012) and CNBC Africa’s AABLA West African Business Woman of the Year (2013), Yale World Fellow (2014) for over five highly successful years.
She launched Biola Alabi Media to help fill out a creative gap in Nigeria – Placing trust and faith in young creatives to help them write the future of Nigerian and African media. Biola Alabi Media, Consultancy provides services across a range of critical areas, including, Strategic Engagement, Programming, Distribution and Deal Negotiation.
Seeing potential in Bankole Oluwafemi and Seyi Taylor’s Big Cabal Media, Biola Alabi is one of the investors in the Nigerian venture. Labelled as Vox Media for Africa, Big Cabal owns Tech Cabal and Zikoko. The budding media company has worked with brands such as Facebook, Stanbic IBTC Bank, WeChat, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Access Bank, Konga and provides incredible coverage on real issues in the African tech and lifestyle scene.
She has also backed Affiong Williams’s Reel Fruits; a growing fruit-processing company focused on processing, packaging and branding local, and quality fruit products. In 2015, Affiong made the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 tomorrow’s billionaires list. Affiong is an agropreneur that worked for a small business incubator in South Africa. On her return to Nigeria, she set up Reel Fruit – a snack and beverage company that produces dried fruit snacks for the health-conscious Nigerian.
Following up with the success of her popular Nigerian travel food doc-series, “Bukas and Joint”, Alabi has invested in a feature film that will be released in August of 2017; Banana Island Ghost. The synopsis of the project makes it something to look forward to.
“A single lady prays to find a marriage partner before the bank takes over her family house and gets served – a ghost – she finds a ghost in her bed who has negotiated with God to give him three days to find his soul mate. The twist to the simple storyline is that juxtaposition of the real and fantasy lives of two persons, leading to the conflict of the movie.”
In the trailer, Ijeoma wakes up to find a ghost next to her. He has three days to fall in love and she will do anything to save her father’s house in Banana Island from the bank coming to reclaim it in three days. This exceptional sneak peek guarantees an action packed and comedy filled viewing experience when it is released in theatres on August 4, 2017. The movie features international act; Tomiwa Edun and stars several Nollywood heavyweights including, Uche Jombo, Saheed Balogun, Ali Nuhu, Chigul, Bimbo Manuel, Damilola Adegbite, Lala Akindoju and Dorcas Fapson.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin