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I think I'm happier telling my clients stories_Jessica Hope


Jessica Hope is the Founder and Managing Director of Wimbart, a boutique public relations

company with a heavy emphasis on Africa and emerging markets.
Described as the woman who tells African start-ups’ stories, Jessica Hope is the Founder and Managing Director of Wimbart, a boutique public relations company with a heavy emphasis on Africa and emerging markets. Her clients include iROKO, CcHub, Konga, Ringier, She Leads Africa and Paystack. Jessica graduated from the University of Manchester with a BA in History and MA in Religion & Politics and worked as a journalist and editor for a number of years before she moved into public relations. Prior to starting her own PR Company, she worked at the Natural History Museum, the Jewish Museum and was Head of Communications for African entertainment brand iROKO. In this exclusive chat with GuardianWoman, she explains how her company has carved a niche for itself through narrating the stories of African start-ups How will you describe your affinity for the African tech space? Accidental or a deliberate cultivated relationship? Accidental entry but very much now a deliberate and cultivated relationship. I first started working for irokotv five years ago – it was a chance occurrence after I was asked by Jason Njoku to lead on the PR for the (what was then) a small Nollywood start-up. I quit my job as Head of Press at the Jewish Museum in London and jumped on board. It was an extremely fortuitous accidental entry – I loved start-up life and also the opportunity to work on building Iroko’s brand and narrative from day one. He won’t thank me for saying this, but Jason Njoku was a dream ‘entrepreneur’ to work with – he always left a lasting impression on every journalist he met because of his openness to discuss challenges and solutions and his exuberant personality, so it soon became a task of having to manage how much time he could actually dedicate to PR, rather than working hard to get journalists to feature him. When I started out on my own, after 3.5 brilliant years at Iroko, I was inundated with other start-ups that wanted to collaborate, and I’ve been cultivating these relationships ever since. What attracts you to African businesses?

I think it’s the can-do approach to solving challenges that face African commerce. I especially admire businesses that actually build / develop products for Africa, rather than those who just take a Western blueprint and try and apply it force-feed it to an African audience. In my experience, this model doesn’t work. I also admire the vision and resilience African companies, especially the tech companies, have. Whilst there’s a lot of hype swirling around the sector, those actually working on and building these companies know that this isn’t a get-rich-quick pathway. Tech companies in Africa can’t IPO in a few years like they can in the West – they have to build slower and think 7 to10 years down the line, which requires a lot of patience. I admire that and like starting the journey with these types of African companies.
In taking up your clients, some of which are African tech business/entrepreneurs, what are the specifics that you look for?
For me, it’s essential to work with people who have a good, authentic and compelling ‘story’, who have a genuinely interesting product that stands out from the crowd and, really importantly, someone who has time to dedicate to doing press activity. I’m very much a personality-led type of person, and I like to have a strong emotional connection to the people and products I work with, so this is really important for me too when I take on new clients for Wimbart.

Apart from limited investments in African technologies, what major problems do you think tech innovators in this part of the world need to solve in order to become more viable?
In terms of PR, a stumbling block

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