Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meet Armstrong Fombi; the Creative Young Entrepreneur

Armstrong Fombi
Albert Einstein once said that "To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science" but I will contextualize this statement by borrowing from Peter Drucker who said that "Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know and to apply the principles of successful innovation." To talk about innovative ideas is o talk about Armstrong Fombi, the Chief Executive Officer of ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP, and the creative ideas company. This young innovative and bulk of talent popularly known as KING ARMSTRONG DeGREAT, is equally a visionary entrepreneur, Journalist and cultural activist. In Bamenda where h lives, he is being celebrated for  leading a continent wide advocacy campaign aimed at eradicating the evil act of pirating products from the “African Creative Industry. 
        Born on April 16th 1975, Armstrong Fombi, started his journey in the creative industry at a very tender age. He took interest in singing and acting in nursery school stage presentations. In primary school, he started drawing, constructing toy buildings, writing songs, listening regularly to his favourite artist - Jimmy Cliff, writing fan mails to “Reggae Time” an 80’s show on former “Radio Bamenda”, and also became a member of the “Bamenda Red Cross Band”. In 1985, he attended his first professional music concert and also recorded his first demo with his father’s radio cassette recorder and a local guitar, which he crafted. While in primary school, he was a regular visitor to the defunct Bamenda Museum and Cultural Centre, and also found strong interest in reading magazines and newspapers, which he often got from his father’s vast print media collection.    
        His entrepreneurial spirit started manifesting as a student in the prestigious Cameroon Protestant College (CPC Bali) at aged 13, when he created TANA (Two “A” News Agency), a campus based Information portal, whereby he will go to the school library, cull various human interest stories and re - write them out in briefs, on A3 size sheets, then paste them up twice a week in the class room for his mates and teachers to read. Interestingly, TANA still exists today as a Bamenda based diversified information and news agency renamed FombiTANA. In 1989, still in CPC Bali, he applied to the International Youth Service and received Pen Pal forms with which he connected students to foreign Pen Pals, in return for 300 CFA per form.
        He kept on doing musical performances and sketches on campus, and in 1990, adopted his first showbiz name “Ramzy”. In 1991, he teamed up with four school mates and created a music group called “Busy Boys On The Track”. During the long holidays of 1991, he went solo and started taking dance lessons at GRAFIGANG, a defunct dance school in Bamenda, while writing songs, and performing in talent shows. In 1994, he adopted a different showbiz name “Dazzling Fombi” and was already a prominent Afro hip-hop artist on the underground music scene in Bamenda with a few demo recordings to his credit.
        In 1995, aged 20, the challenges of getting a record deal and a failed attempt to get a scholarship to study in Berkllee College of Music, USA, motivated him to venture as a creative entrepreneur by creating DAZFOM Entertainment, a small event production label. In 1996, he applied to the Cameroon’s Ministry Of Culture - North West Delegation and he became an authorised Cultural and Show Business Promoter, operating under the label DAZFOM Entertainment as CEO.
       His first event initiative was in September 1996, when he organised a “black dress code” event to commemorate the death of Rap Legend TUPAC AMARU SHAKUR. Then in December 1996, he put together the highly successful “Bamenda Amateur Music Awards” produced to round off a three month weekly talent show, which he co - organised with Master NgwaNgwa and Hard Pee. From 1996 up till 2000, under the canopy of DAZFOM Entertainment, he focused on Event Production, mostly concerts for underground artists and at the same time studying for a 1st Degree Programme in Performing Arts in the University Of Yaoundé I, Cameroon.
      In 2001, a year after the liberalization of Cameroon’s Audio-Visual sector, he changed the name from DAZFOM Entertainment to ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW, and started producing Radio and Television Commercials, as well as commenced work on his company’s first publication called UPKONTRI. The same year, he was awarded a CERTIFICATE OF HONOUR as a cultural promoter by Cameroon’s Ministry Of Culture - North West Delegation.
     In Early 2002, with the first issue of UPKONTRI soon to be released, he realised the need to restructure the company by creating three subsidiaries namely: FombiReadable - a magazine and newspaper editing and publishing company, DAZFOM - a full service variety events company and Fombitaizing - a boutique advertising agency specializing in the conception and production of Radio and TV Commercials. By July 2002, in his capacity as executive editor, FombiReadable, a wholly owned subsidiary of ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW, released the 1st issue of “UPKONTRI” an Arts and Showbiz Publication.
     In 2003, he became the founding CEO of BASBEE (Bamenda Association Of Show Business Entrepreneurs and Executives). And between 2003 and 2004, he produced and hosted a full season of the highly rated independent radio show titled “DIOBORIM” which aired on the Bamenda based radio station “Abakwa FM”. By mid 2004, he started and completed a diploma course in “Broadcast Journalism” at the Centre For Biblical Studies (CBS) School of Broadcast Journalism.
     Two years after the successful launch of UPKONTRI, he started working on the creation process of another publication and in November 2004, he released “PIVI” a tabloid publication from the stables of FombiReadable. And in 2005, he created another subsidiary called Dazzlingfombi STUDIO, and started producing pilots for independent TV Shows like “Fombilystik”, “DIOBORIM TV Version” “UPKONTRI Lively”, and “HippiAfrica”, which he pitched to Cameroonian TV stations like STV and Canal 2, but to no avail. Under Dazzlingfombi STUDIO, he began producing corporate videos for clients like the top Yaoundé based marketing and communications company Regie Star, PNEU Bamenda, TOPROC Finance, etc, and by the end of 2005, he received the “WORLD VISION AWARD” for most promising publisher.
      In 2006, he applied and was accredited as the pioneer Cameroon Representative of the prestigious African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). Later that year, he started the music subsidiary of ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW, called FOAWMI, a record label under which we released “Golden Age Souljah”, the debut solo album by Afro Hip-Hip star Fusi. By the start of 2007, Armstrong Fombi, was already becoming a cultural and media entrepreneur to reckon with in Anglophone Cameroon. And in March 2007, launched “BamendaAlive”, his third publication from the stables of FombiReadable.
      In 2008, he conceived and started “UPKONTRI Discussion Forum”, a made-for-TV event from the stable of our events unit DAZFOM. The event is aimed at discussing ways forward for the creative industry. That same year, he also conceived and started the annual “Miss Beautyvigence Leadership Conference”, as a prelude to the annual Miss BeautyViGence Pageant, which he later added to the in-house event portfolio at DAZFOM. By mid 2008, he finally changed his company’s name from ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW to ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP, and also adopted the title “KING” based on his “Born Again Christian” believe.
     The year 2009, started with King Armstrong officially called to the “2009 African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) College of Screeners”, as a member. Again in 2009, he included training to his company’s service portfolio and started organising and offering short periodical training courses in selected domains in Arts and Media, like “Event Management” and “Stage, Radio and TV Presenting”.  Most significantly in mid 2009, he started conceiving and writing a business plan entitled “ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP VISION 2018”.
      He spent most of 2010, writing and fully developing various TV Show concepts for
Dazzlingfombi STUDIO. Then in 2010, he was called again to the “African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) College of Screeners”, as a member.
      At the start of 2011, he created another subsidiary called “Fombitaleno” a talent representation and Licensing Agency, representing a string of artists.
     In February 2012, he launched the “BAVENTI  FESTIVAL-MARKET PROJECT, a pan African event with the first edition billed to run from November 28th – December 1st, 2014 in Bamenda, Cameroon, being organised DAZFOM. Then in July 2012, called to be Chief Judge at the 2012 BBT “BAMENDA BEST TALENT”, a multi Talent Show organised by “Talent World Organisation. In mid 2012, he was awarded the “RED FEATHER AWARD FOR BEST SHOWBIZ ENTREPRENEUR”. Then in August 2012, he was selected among 13 African Cultural Leaders to attend the 2012 “African Leadership Training  Course” at the African Arts Institute, Cape Town, South Africa. In the last quarter 2012, he conceived and launched yet another publication “GOCO MARKET” a business journal from the stables of FombiReadable. In December 2012, he completed the “ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION VISION 2018”, which is actually an organic business expansion plan that will transform ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP into Africa’s global vertically integrated creative ideas company with at least 30 fully operational subsidiaries before December 2018. NOTE: All 30 subsidiaries have been fully conceived and branded and work is in progress to launch those that are not yet fully operational.
     In 2013, he officially announced the “GOCO ECONOMIC SUMMIT”, to be held in December 2014. organised by DAZZFOM, “GOCO ECONOMIC SUMMIT” focuses on Policies, Investment and Growth in the nation’s economy.
    In 2014, he conceived and officially launched the “Fombigalleseum ART PRIZE” a Fine Arts Contest aimed at promotion and celebrating the domain of Fine Arts. The first eve “Fombigalleseum ART PRIZE” awards in two categories “Painting” and “Sculpture”, will take place during the BAAVENTI FESTIVAL-MARKET closing dinner party on December 1st 2014, in Bamenda.


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