Online startup Bandeka wants to connect well-educated Africans

An online community for well-educated Africans. This is what Ghanaian-born Yaw Boateng and Tunde Kehinde, a Nigerian, seek to create with The idea for Bandeka started while Boateng and Kehinde were studying at Harvard Business School. The site went live in October 2011. How we made it in Africa asked the founders about their plans.

Give us an overview of Bandeka

Bandeka is an invite-only community where successful, professional Africans can connect on- and offline. Our aim is to provide well-educated Africans the opportunity to connect with other like-minded Africans – for conversation, advice, professional relationships, friendships, or to find love.

How did the idea for Bandeka come about?

The idea behind Bandeka came about while co-founders Tunde Kehinde and Yaw Boateng were attending Harvard Business School. The two noticed that many of their male and female friends and classmates shared a common disappointment with their dating options and were looking for a way to consistently meet new like-minded Africans who were single.

How does Bandeka differ from other dating sites?

Bandeka’s uniqueness lies in its focus on building a strong African community. The site is not just a dating site, but rather a platform used to connect Africans at home and in the diaspora. Aside from focusing specifically on well-educated Africans, Bandeka is also invite-only. We have done this to help maintain the integrity of the site and to forge a better sense of community as each member will have at least one personal contact on the site. Lastly, Bandeka hosts offline events in Africa and abroad; these events allow members to connect in person. We have found that these socials have been highly successful for Africans who are apprehensive about online dating.

Describe a typical Bandeka member

Not to sound cliché, but we don’t really have a “typical” member; our community is quite diverse. We have members from all corners of the continent, living in various cities around the world. It’s been cool to see a good mix of educational and professional experiences. We have entrepreneurs, students, consultants, and doctors among other professions looking to connect and meet new people!

How will the site generate revenue?

We have a number of plans for generating revenue, however, our current focus is on creating a strong online community where members are consistently connecting with each other on- and offline. Once we offer members great value, generating revenue will take care of itself.

Do you plan on raising outside funding for the venture?

Currently, our focus is on improving our user experience and attracting as many amazing members to the community as possible. Our vision is for Bandeka to be the first port of call for all amazing Africans and friends of Africa looking to connect. In order to achieve this we will need to raise funding, but we are not focused intently on that right now.

You mention that the site is invite-only; does this mean I have to wait to be invited, or is there another way one can join?

Great question! No, you do not have to wait to be invited in order to be a member of Bandeka. If you do not know anyone on the site, you can email us and tell us about yourself. Also, people can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

What do you foresee as the main challenges in making the site a success?

The key challenge for us is creating a product that appeals to a wide and diverse set of people and gets them meeting new, great people offline frequently. We know that Africans want to connect with other like-minded Africans, thus we have to make sure Bandeka provides the tools to allow them to do this as quickly and simply as possible.