Molly Jensen is the chief executive officer of Afripods, a free pan-African podcast hosting platform building the largest library of African audio stories, based in Nairobi, Kenya. With the ability to categorise in over 50 languages and with content from over 30 countries including that from individual podcasters, radio stations, and media houses, Afripods is the home for African podcasting across the continent and within the diaspora.
As a Ghanaian-American born in New York, Molly is extremely excited to help digitise African stories and wants to see African creators take up as much space as possible while creating avenues to help them get paid for their work. She has over ten years of experience in people management, sales, marketing, and technology.
1. You’ve worked for a variety of start-ups and corporate companies across different sectors such as marketing, how have these different roles prepared you for your role as the CEO of Afripods?
I think the throughline of my previous positions has been that I thrive with people. I do well when I operate with people, whether in sales or marketing or in a small team environment such as a startup or larger corporation. When I get to collaborate and leverage other people’s ideas to execute a common goal. When I look across these different verticals, I enjoyed the diversity of thought and people and living in Nairobi, it’s been a privilege to expose myself to a different work environment and culture, to help move the needle on the ground here in Africa, especially with the lens of a community being so important.
2. You describe yourself as a media professional interested in the intersection of media, technology, and wellness. How has your role as the CEO of Afripods allowed you to bring these three different sectors together?
People are multifaceted and complex, and I think who we are and who we show up and work with has a lot to do with our experiences and lifestyles. I think especially as a leader, it’s important to highlight that it’s not just about work. I think mental health is hugely important. I think wellness, fitness, and taking care of yourself helps you have more clarity when you work. I think especially as a leader, it’s important to highlight that it’s not just about work.
3. Kenya has a vibrant and fast-paced media industry. How has a platform such as Afripods competed or created competitive content that captivates the audience?
From research we are seeing the fastest growing countries for podcasting across the continent are Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. Those are the three countries we have the most data on and specifically when it comes to Kenya we are seeing an influx of podcasters as well as podcast listeners. As a platform we are distributing the content of these content creators but we have seen that conversational podcasts perform very well as well as investigative journalism podcasts.
4. At Afripods, you are trying to build the largest audio library for African stories, how will this be achieved and why is this important?
We know discoverability and searchability is a challenge for the industry globally and currently Afripods has content from over 30 countries and the ability to be categorized in more than 50 languages. We have ensured that our technology can cater and help make it easier for African podcasts to be discovered especially those looking for specific regional content or vernacular content. Some of our partnerships include media companies, corporate businesses, podcasters and coworking spaces.
5. How is Afripods, helping or supporting podcasters from countries where podcasting is not as popular?
We do a lot of work focused on the community of podcasters on the continent including monthly country meetups called Afripods Meets where we digitally connect with creatives from different countries. There are multiple micro-communities across the continent for podcasters in different regions and we try to help amplify those to help podcasters find their space. We also leverage our different social media platforms to have conversations with podcasters in different countries as well as amplify them via our channels.
6. The podcasting industry in Africa has had dramatic changes and continues to grow, what are some of the exciting changes you have witnessed?
I think in the last couple of years there’s been exponential growth and that’s just been in terms of the number of podcasters who are podcasting, the number of people who are interested in podcasting, the people who know about podcasting as well as the businesses that are stepping into the space. We’re seeing some corporates who are starting to add podcasting to their wheelhouse, especially media companies, as they look to digitally transform their businesses. I think that you’re also seeing the prevalence of research coming up, such as annual reports on Africa and people looking to expand on the continent. This is an exciting time for the podcasting ecosystem and with the addition of the grants that are available for podcasters and the money that is being spent to develop high-quality audio content, it’s just been exploding and I think that this audio opportunity is so much bigger than anyone could imagine.
7. What are your go-to podcasts?
Case Number Zero: an incredible investigative journalism story
The Mics Are Open: I love their minisode
Palaver Podcast: I think the host Frances does a great job interviewing
8. Where do you see podcasting in the future for Africa or Africans?
I think that podcasting has a real opportunity to become one of the most prevalent audio forms on the continent, and the reason I say that is that we have a group of young people that are very particular. They like what they like, they follow their friends and they are very strong-minded. I think if we have podcasters who are niche and talk about specific things, you’re going to see people following those conversations. With the decline of radio and the advertising spend on radio, it’s still massive. It’s still hugely significant, but it is declining and podcasting, although it’s taking up a smaller share of the pie right now, is the fastest-growing piece of that pie.
I think we’re going to see growth and I think we’re going to see more podcasts and more African creators getting paid and we’re going to see more advertisers coming into the space. As data becomes more affordable we are going to see more people interested in audio content that they are specifically interested in because I do believe the auditory behaviour of getting information through your ears is embedded in the culture of African people, most Africans have a radio in their house. My grandmother still listens to the radio every day and I think that behaviour is not going away anytime soon. I just think that people will want to listen to exactly what they want. We are in a period of consumers who want customisation and personalisation and we’re going to see that in podcasting and we’re going to see very strong audiences and communities develop for the podcasters.
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