Eche Emole is the cofounder of Afropolitan, a network state for the African Diaspora. Jackson and Eche discuss historical analogs, Afropolitan's roadmap, and their citizen rollout + growth strategy. Tune in to hear how Afropolitan is looking to help revamp governance models that have let Africans down.
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[00:00:00] Jackson Steger: Hi everyone. This is Jackson Steger, and you're listening to Campfire's last episode of 2022. Let's get it.
[00:00:00] This season of Campfire seeks to understand how to build new cities, and each week we are joined by experts and practitioners from different startup cities who will share the stories and lessons that they have learned from experimenting with radical new models of living.
[00:00:23] Today's guest is Eche Emole, Co-founder of Afropolitan. Afropolitan is creating a digital nation to enable all Africans to build abundant lives. They build themselves as the network state for the African diaspora. It was fascinating to chat about their vision, roadmap, and day-to-day operations.
[00:00:41] Unrelated, if you're a general contract-type builder who's talented with their hands, or a naturalist who has built regenerative gardening or permaculture systems on properties before, reach out to me on Twitter @JacksonSteger if you're interested in living at Neighborhood Zero for free for a few months next year.
[00:01:01] Thanks to everyone who listened to the show this year. It has been incredibly fulfilling to have had the chance to meet and learn from our many talented guests, and that wouldn't have been remotely possible without your continued listenership and feedback on Twitter and on Discord. We'll be taking some time off for the holidays and for the new year, but we'll be back in 2023 with fun episodes about these wild new ways of living that we've been exploring. Cheers.
[00:01:28] Eche Emole, welcome to Campfire.
[00:01:31] Eche Emole: Thank you so much for having me, Jackson. How are you doing?
[00:01:34] Jackson Steger: I am doing very well. I've got a full liter and a half of water next to me, and I'm going to do my best to resist the urge to drink all of it, so that I don't have to run to the bathroom in the middle of this episode. Lots to talk about today and really admire a lot of the things that Afropolitan is doing. As we record, you all are in the midst of your first citizenship rollout, which is very exciting. I want to start with the very basics. What is Afropolitan and why are you building it?
[00:02:02] Eche Emole: Yeah. So, Afropolitan is a best-in-class network of the best that Africa and the diaspora have to offer across multiple sectors. While we may be a network today, our goal is to become the first ever internet country, a concept known as the network state, popularized by Balaji Srinivasan. A network state is a highly aligned online community with a capacity for collective action that's able to crowdfund territory around the world and eventually become diplomatically recognized by preexisting states. So, that is Afropolitan in a nutshell.
[00:02:34] Jackson Steger: Yeah. We definitely talk a lot about the network state on the show, and just like he is an investor in Afropolitan biology, is also a backer of Cabin. So, excited to see all of that alignment with you all. Why build a network state and a digital nation for the African diaspora?
[00:02:53] Eche Emole: Yeah. So, I think I'll give our context, which is when I woke up last December 23rd in Nairobi, Kenya, I woke up at 5:00 AM, I'm pacing the room, and then my girl's like, “hey, what's wrong?” I'm like, “look, I know how I would look at someone who's about to tell you what I'm about to tell you, but I think we need to start a new country.” And she's, “wait, what? Why?” And I was like, “Yo, things are not working for us. Like the nation state experiment has failed for Africans globally, right?” Like we are in a situation where a lot of us are looking to immigrate out of the continent. There are not going to be enough visas for everyone, right? And then on top of it, our currencies are getting consistently devalued. We need a new setup from the ground up.
[00:03:34] And I think, we also drew inspiration from the American Founding Fathers, where Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist Papers, he says, “Is it possible or not for societies of men to form a new governance constitution through reflection and choice or are we forever destined to depend on our governance through accident and force?”
[00:03:54] And that was our why. No modern-day nation state in Africa was created by reflection and choice. It's always been through accident and force. And we have suffered the consequences of that throughout multiple decades. And I think when it comes to either having our currencies devalued, the fact that we don't even have the same passport privilege as the rest of the world, the fact that we might not be able to get access to the same types of loans, refinancing, et cetera, these are systematic issues that we face from the top down. And I think our approach is knowing what we know now, if we could build a network state, how would we build it from the ground up? And that is our why.
[00:04:31] Jackson Steger: Yeah. I'm glad you brought up the Federalist Paper example. Something that I heard Chika mention in a Twitter space once. I think his name was Theodor Herzl, published Der Judenstaat, the Jewish State at (00:04:43) book in Vienna in the late 1800s. Some credit the book for being a helpful blueprint towards the eventual birth of the state of Israel. Is that, is like the Jewish state and the Zionist movement a useful model for you all?
[00:04:56] Eche Emole: Yeah, it’s a useful model. And I think, like Balaji says, sometimes it's not to say that everything they did was great, it's just to say like, look, this was a model where people who had shared purpose and values came together to build or create something.
[00:05:10] Another model is, I just wrote an article the other day, From Shared DNA to Shared Purpose, and the model I was using was the pilgrims who came on the Mayflower, right? The whole inspiration was, hey, we believe the Church of England is beyond redemption. We don't think it can be reformed. We're going to move over to the new world and start a new life. And they did that. And I think that’s our own central argument, which is we believe the nation state experiment for Africans is beyond redemption, and we want to reorganize this in this network state model from the ground up. And I think those are models that pull some of our inspiration from.
[00:05:45] Jackson Steger: Sure. Yeah. Africa is the world's poorest continent, 9 of the 10 highest poverty rates are countries in Africa. In the U.S., where much of the African diaspora resides, black folks face huge racial inequality, police brutality. I think it was a TechCrunch article where you said that the problem you're solving for here is bad governance. So, can you expand on what you mean by bad governance? I don't know if that term is always super widely understood. And what's the relevant solution for governance that Afropolitan is proposing?
[00:06:14] Eche Emole: Yeah. So, I think the analogy we try to give is picture a house that has a weak foundation and the owners want to fix this house. But then they go into the house, and instead of fixing the foundation, they say, you know what? Let's paint the walls. Let's fix the lights. Let's fix the fans. Let's fix the AC. They do all these other things, but never actually fix the foundation, and eventually the house collapses. In this analogy, the weak foundation is our governance. Our governance across Africa is poor, and because of how bad it is, it doesn't allow our other sectors to thrive. So, whether it's the FinTech sectors, the agriculture sectors, or the healthcare sectors, all that depends on a functioning, efficient, or competent governance, and we don't have it.
[00:06:56] So, the way we expand on it is our governance across Africa is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy. Take for example, one example I could just give that was more a recent, you had a situation in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, where competent governments could go in and say, hey, if you're an American citizen, we have a plane waiting for you before the war starts. Get on it. Let's go. If you're a German citizen, we have a plane waiting for you. Get on it. Let's go. A lot of African and black students were stranded in Ukraine because their governments are not competent.
[00:07:22] So, for the most part, the average African navigates the world from the place of being a government unto himself. And to be honest, I think we're right to the point where that level of anxiety, that stress, that feeling of not being part of a community that can actually have your back, we're exhausted from that feeling. And I think, for us, what we're saying is how is it possible that our grandfathers, or people who came before us, have better lives from a governance perspective than we did?
[00:07:47] And I think our whole argument is when it comes to governance in Africa, the poor governance, it's a feature. Now, how do we know it's a feature and not a bug? Because we compare ourselves to countries who started after us. So, I'm Nigerian, for example. Our independence was in 1960. The Vietnam War ended in 1975. That's a full 15 years after our independence. Look at Vietnam today. Look at Nigeria today. We compare ourselves to countries like the UAE or Dubai, right? In 1990, Dubai was a sand desert. Look at Dubai today. Look at Nigeria today.
[00:08:17] So, again, what we’re saying is something has to change, and we've tried changing it through war, elections, revolution, whatever type of prayers, religious prayers. It's not working. So, maybe we go back to the root and start over, and this time build it with more intentionality and reflection as well.
[00:08:36] Jackson Steger: Sure. Cool. Switching now a little bit away from the underlying motivations to the execution piece. You have on your website a four-phase manifesto on how you plan on executing the vision of forming the Afropolitan network state. Would you mind walking us through each of those four phases, starting with the network?
[00:08:58] Eche Emole: Yeah. Phase one is building up the network. And I'll just give you additional context. When we say building up a network, a lot of people, even some people in our community don't even know why that's even important. They're like, why do you need a network? What are the benefits of having a network? But we see other groups who've established networks thrive in abundance from the networks that they've established.
[00:09:17] Again, going back to even the Jewish state, that diaspora network was set across borders, and it's followed and stayed with them to this day. Maybe a network like the Freemason’s, those networks have been established over time and it takes them to this day. So, we're looking to establish a best-in-class network of folks who are allies, are African diaspora and people on the continent across multiple sectors. And we want to seed those folks with our citizen passes that identify them as members of the group. And we're doing that through our NFTs. That's one.
[00:09:46] Phase two is what we're calling Government as A Service, which is GAS. And the whole idea is we want to build an Afropolitan super app that will enable members within our ecosystem be able to capture utility across the ecosystem. This app will be able to do things like self-sovereign, like one company checkout from a jurisdiction perspective, things like remittances powered by crypto, things like risk capital, are you able to actually go bankless? Because one of our arguments is when we interact with traditional systems or traditional finance, we start running into some systematic racism within these systems. Maybe instead of cajoling them, pleading or negotiating for our work, why don't we just build a system that allows us to say, hey, if you're an Afropolitan member, we've set up a system powered by crypto that can say, hey, you qualify for this loan, or you qualify for this refinancing, and we are building those systems within our own ecosystem. So, that's phase two.
[00:10:37] Phase three for us is what we're calling the minimum viable, and the way to think about that is how do we ladder up the legitimacy allowed to eventually be viewed as a country in the future. In September, we got recognized by the New York Stock Exchange as the first ever internet country. And that's just one way. So, the whole idea with that is you're recognized by the New York Stock Exchange today, tomorrow it’s the United Nations. You're laddering that up.
[00:10:59] And why that's very important is that was the first time most of us, right? Or in fact, all of us who came through for that event, which were Afropolitan members, had ever even gotten access to the New York Stock Exchange. So, part of what we're saying is when you join this network, we want to be able to get you access to information, access to capital, and also access to just the network that allows you to thrive. And I think we want to unlock that in phase three.
[00:11:23] And also, a more recent example I just gave was the whole Russia-Ukraine crisis. Competent governments in could go in there, get their citizens out, but our governments could not, especially because they're already incompetent. So, what would it look like if Afropolitans say, hey, we have buses arranged for guys, for you people. Join this Telegram group or join this Discord group and let's get you guys to safety, and that’s Slovakia, Romania, or even Poland, because we've arranged safe havens for our folks to get to safety. And it's just being proactive, where our home governments are not proactive. That's phase three.
[00:11:55] Phase four is where we go for the diplomatic recognition from preexisting states, but we want to innovate on the land piece of this. So, remember, the network state is online first, land second. And I think for us, what we want to do is combine two concepts. The first concept is an embassy. The second concept is a Chinatown. So, for example, the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, for example, is a sovereign territory in Kenya, and in Chinatowns they have their own post office, their own malls, their own banking, et cetera. We want to combine those two concepts together, and what that forms is a sovereign Afro town. And so, let's zoom out. If you're an Afropolitan citizen, you navigate the world with the Afropolitan passport, you're able to get or make payments for goods and services using the Afropolitan super app, and you eventually get physical entry into Afro towns located across the world because our border won't just be four-corner borders, it'll be a discontiguous border that's stretched across the globe. That's the vision at scale.
[00:12:55] Jackson Steger: Yeah. I appreciate the clear and succinct way you walked through each of those. I've also found the Chinatown plus embassy model to be really helpful in underscoring the distributed archipelago that network states might have to experience.
[00:13:10] I want to go back for a second to the super app in phase two. I think the closest analog I've seen for something like this is maybe Singpass. Are you familiar with how Singapore facilitates their sort of day-to-day governance and interaction with its citizenship? And is that a fair comparison?
[00:13:29] Eche Emole: So, I haven't heard of Singpass, but one of the comparisons we do use is WeChat out of China, where it's so integrated into folks’ lives. And I think that's a more compelling example that most people in the world are probably familiar with when they hear of WeChat. But yeah, I think the idea is something like Singaporeans use, that would be something similar to what we want to introduce. Yeah.
[00:13:48] Jackson Steger: Yeah. I was just recently writing a piece about the future of passports and this integration with not just the entry from countries, but all your DMV certifications, your vaccinations, any interaction with what we currently perceive as government agencies, if you can centralize that in a way that still protects user privacy is great. Awesome.
[00:14:09] So, moving on a little bit to this citizenship rollout that you're currently going through. At Cabin, we’ve held off from formally launching a citizenship program. I'm bullish that we'll eventually do, but I think we want to have a really concrete strategy in place. So, I'm curious to pick your brain on a few things related to digital citizenship, starting with, like why is now the moment, why does it make sense for you to go out and give these 500 citizenry experiences away? What are you hoping to advance for Afropolitan at this particular moment in time?
[00:14:40] Eche Emole: Yeah. So, I've been asked this question, and I think some people were like, hey, are you trying to achieve or are you striving for a utopia? And I say to them that, no, because where we're coming from, what we're really striving for is a baseline of competence, and we don't have that. So, even just to set the standard for us, where it's a global standard, where, okay, when you come across an Afropolitan, this is what you expect, this is how you expect to feel, this is how you expect to be handled from a service perspective. We need a global baseline competent standard.
[00:15:11] And so, for us, I loved when Balaji highlighted that alignment is key for the sort of folks you want initially, right? Because we've grown up in an age where social media allows us to think like you just run an ad or just run a Facebook ad or just run a Google ad or just run an…. We have not run a single ad. Most of our inbound interest has been word of mouth, and we've love to see that because when we're seeing people say, hey, my friend told me about this, we're looking to filter for that alignment.
[00:15:37] And I think our application process in terms of strategy is you go to our website, there's an application process you apply, it gets reviewed by the team, and what we are filtering for with the questions we've asked is high alignment. So, if you just come and you're like, eh, this looked good to do, this was great, I heard about this, I was just curious, then you might obviously not be one of the first 500. But when you come and you give a really good reason, you say that you have time to commit to this, you let us know your why, those are some of the indicators that allow us to filter for alignment as we process the first 500.
[00:16:09] Jackson Steger: Sure. And so then what is one enable to do with Afropolitan citizenship? What might be a reason why someone would want to other than that they're aligned with what you might have hoped you eventually build?
[00:16:20] Eche Emole: Yeah. So, I think the idea is that the first 500 citizens allow us to do things like set our initial code of conduct for the group and also do things like sign our constitutional on chain. But remember in phase one, what we're building is the network. And so, what we're looking to offer are benefits of early citizenship that will include things like access to a global community of professional builders who understand their needs, an Afropolitan peer support group that allows people to accelerate their journey as builders in curated peer working groups, where they can learn and lean on each other. And these groups will meet like once a month. We also want to provide access to something we call Abundance Unlocked, where folks can gain insider knowledge and insights from industry leaders and cultural icons through hosted private seminars.
[00:17:05] Obviously, the curated meetups are also important. So, we want to be able to bring together builders throughout the Afropolitan community at virtual and in-person gatherings. And also, the most important one too is the access to our member-only platform that facilitates new connections with like-minded builders to share ideas and network.
[00:17:23] And I know some people might be listening to this and say to themselves, oh, maybe I already have this sort of thing within my community, and it's, yeah. But for the African community at large, this isn't something that's been established globally, right? It's like, in 2022, I think I'm always shocked how still far behind the eight ball we are, and certain things that are taken for granted in the West. And I'm like, look, we need to, again, establish a baseline of competence where you join this network, you get access to the sort of people who want to win and help win. Whereas a lot of times in our backgrounds with Africans, we have dealt with a lot of scarcity, scarcity of resources, scarcity of mind, and even just not being able to play long-term games or long-term people. Nothing really ever compounds in our African ecosystem except for mediocrity really, and it's like, there's no other way to put that lightly. And I think for a lot of us who want better, what we are trying to establish is a network that allows us to thrive at scale.
[00:18:19] Jackson Steger: Sure. Yeah. So, it's clear to me that you've been thinking about stuff like this since way before Balaji’s book came out this July, and yet still like the conversation that he sparked on network states, the language that he's lent to this space, so much of it is still very philosophical and theoretical at this point. So, how are you making this idea of Afropolitan not just accessible, but even known to folks who aren't on ‘Tech’ Twitter 24 hours a day?
[00:18:46] Eche Emole: Yeah. To be honest, as we are mostly word of mouth, we've not run a single ad, but I think it's also important to understand the context of Afropolitan. So, we already existed prior to this particular manifestation of what we were building too, and I think the best way to understand Afropolitan’s journey is to think about it in three phases, right?
[00:19:03] Phase one Afropolitan was an organization I started while in law school in San Francisco Bay Area. We catered to the African diaspora through event, Afrobeats parties, concerts, festivals. And a significant highlight of what we achieved during that period was something called the ‘Year of Return’ that happened in Ghana in 2019, where about a million plus people from the diaspora came out to Ghana, and it generated about $2 billion worth of economic activity. The reason that's important is it was a watershed moment for the diaspora. And then come 2020, we thought we could reload this, the demand was pretty high, and then COVID happens. COVID decimates the entire area life events industry. So, we pivoted, and we pivoted into media, but through a social other app, called Clubhouse. So, the Clubhouse, between I and my co-founder, Chika, we built communities under of 200,000 people collectively.
[00:19:53] And so, phase three then starts when Balaji drops his book, his article first, in April 2021, called How to Start a New Country. And I remember we were in the car in Senegal when this article drops, and when he said, a network state is a highly aligned online community, and when it reaches critical mass, it replicates in the physical. I saw that because that had been our experience but in reverse, right? In the online community, we had done that on Clubhouse, and we had also shown a capacity for collective action, whether it was funding the police brutality protestors in Nigeria in 2020 or funding the Ethiopian refugee crisis in 2020 as well. So, we had seen a capacity for collective action through this online community. And then we had also seen an MVP of what the land piece would look like from a crowdfund territory perspective with the actual year of return that happened in Ghana.
[00:20:43] So, these are things that were already happening before Balaji even came into the picture. But when he dropped his article and his book, it gave us a way to filter what we were experiencing to now say, okay, cool, this is what we can actually kick on to accomplish now. I think, honestly, he played such a huge role because it allows us to articulate to our members and to our community members and say, this is what we are striving for at scale. It's not just, we're not just here for the parties and for the travel, which are great, there's fun times, but we also have to get back to doing hard things. Like we make the joke that our ancestors built the pyramids, but we're doing TikToks now, right? And there's nothing wrong with the TikTok, but it's just to say that we're not where we need to actually be. And you have a situation where, on the continent, the mindset is just get a visa and get out. But not everyone's going to be able to get a visa. The West isn't going to give everyone a visa. So, what happens to the millions and hundreds of millions of people on the continent who can't get those? At the very least, there's an existential crisis in the horizon, and we hope we can at least fix it if we build a network state that's striving at scale, that people can then hop onto the North, our example at that point. Yeah.
[00:21:55] Jackson Steger: Sure. Appreciate you sharing that. I want to transition a little bit into the ups of how you and your team is working together in this earlier stage of what will be hopeful very long and prosperous existence.
[00:22:07] So, first, there's obviously hundreds, if not thousands, of people interested in investing in the community in one way or another. But can you talk about like the full-time team, how is it constructed? How do you think of, I know you all have a 2.1 million seed round, which we'll maybe talk about a little bit if we have time, but like how do you think about the resources currently at your disposal, and how to approach the problem of building a network state in a lean and sustainable way in this early day?
[00:22:35] Eche Emole: So, it's almost like we're trying to build a country while bootstrapping. It's a different type of mindset. But I think the way we – so, when we close our seed race, I think the beer market would probably start the next day, right? So, it allowed us to just immediately hunker down and say, okay, what do you absolutely need to execute towards phase one? And then, if you can achieve certain milestones in phase one, maybe you can go out again and race for the larger vision.
[00:23:02] And so, for right now, I think we have a core team of five people, just five internal folks, and then ad hoc folks that do like either contract work for when we need them, or even just community members who just volunteered their time, like in the informal DAO that's been set up. And we have been very lucky and blessed in that regard because, again, community members who have dived in, who are willing to contribute their time, their resources, and we had already had an informal network. And I think what this allowed us to show the world, because a lot of people hit us up and say, hey, how did you guys get featured on this article or do this or do that, or do you have to pay for PR? I'm like, we have not paid a single dollar in marketing. We always had an informal network, which is what we were saying that we could establish, right? Now, it was can we organize that network towards a specific, and the purpose is what Afropolitan is looking to unlock.
[00:23:51] And I think, for us, when we finish with this initial citizen passes, we're looking to launch the DAO formally on the back of the first 500 citizens, and that DAO allows us to onboard other members as they come on board as well.
[00:24:05] Jackson Steger: Sure. Yeah. It is funny, we're also five full-time people at this exact moment at Cabin, though we might make our next hire pretty soon. And one, I've been in early-stage tech my whole career, and one thing I've noticed across the board is having very clear metrics to have as a North Star for the team early has always been very useful. I'm curious, are there obvious metrics that, that you're pursuing right now? And if so, what are those? And if not, how do you maintain alignment and keeping the team growing in the same direction?
[00:24:39] Eche Emole: Yeah. So, I would say that our first metric with this phase even in this moment was the first 500 members. And then to accomplish that, we wanted to achieve around 2000 applications for the actual membership passes. And I think we're at 1800 applications now, and I think it's been a huge response to be able to get folks to even go on our website, click an application. And we're seeing folks in the data spend 20, 30 minutes finishing up this application, and I think it shows us like a level of dedication where folks believe it's that important for them to even be able to or to even want to do it in the first place.
[00:25:13] And then going into next year, the way we're thinking about it is, again, making sure that the value that the network receives is impactful for you to even want to join the network. So, we're prioritizing things like partnerships that allow us to unlock value, events that allow members to come together and connect, and also just driving up the memberships as well. So, I think for next year we want to track at least 10,000 folks into the Afropolitan network, and that would be our core metric going into 2023.
[00:25:42] Jackson Steger: Gotcha. From what I can tell, you all seem to use Telegram over Discord. And also, from what I can tell, there's a lot of people in that Telegram. Two-part question here. Why Telegram over Discord? And then two, how do you keep everyone engaged when there's only so much work that can be done at any given point in time and you've got so many people who probably are really enthusiastic by the idea of Afropolitan?
[00:26:11] Eche Emole: Yeah. And it's funny because it's not just even Telegram. We have WhatsApp groups. We have multiple WhatsApp groups because we've been doing events and things before even this (00:26:19) vision. So, we have a ton of community on WhatsApp. We have a ton of community on Telegram. But I think the reason we hadn't launched our Discord yet was our community was not familiar with the UI/UX for Discord, and it just felt like as we poke them, they would keep on saying we're used to the scrolling. If you've ever traveled across Africa, WhatsApp is like the number one messaging platform. And I think Telegram has the same What's up features, so it's more intuitive to our community.
[00:26:46] But then with Discord, I definitely appreciate the word that Discord has put into a product, but it's still, like we need community products to be more vibrant. Like there needs to be more, you need to want to chat, and maybe it also involves us re-imagining what social networks actually look like. I think one of the things one of our product guys was discussing yesterday was why do we assume that it has to be over a phone or over a screen, or we need to actually go back to first principles the same way we're going back to first principles for the network state and really reimagine what does a community town spur look like in today's world over the internet.
[00:27:24] And I think what we're trying to really accomplish at Afropolitan is reimagine what those community products will look like, because right now, I think after 10 or 15 years of using the current social network space, I, for one, I'm no longer, I don't believe it's the best we can do. I think there's just so much more we can unlock.
[00:27:43] So, to basically answer your question, I think it was community-led to choose Telegram over Discord. And then obviously WhatsApp has a limit on how many members you can have in a group chat, and Telegram allows you to go up to at least 200,000. In the meantime, I think it was a trade-off between those as well.
[00:28:01] Jackson Steger: And so then on the engagement question, do just people can scroll to the degree that they want to or do you have some way to, do you have spark notes if someone's not doing the massive hundred message scroll every day?
[00:28:11] Eche Emole: Yeah. So, I think what we're relying on mostly is our newsletter or email list. I think we have like 13,000 folks right now in the mailing list. So, we're relying on that as our main primary channel of dispersing and distributing information. And also, the Twitter spaces, Clubhouse spaces. We built communities on Clubhouse of about 50,000 on Afropolitan launch on there. So, we have had these distribution phases, but I still say that we can do better. I don't think it really is where it's at, and I do feel like there's also exhaustion from the sort of social media platforms that we have today. I don't think that, like when you go into it, a lot of the times it's you’re getting assaulted mentally whether it's from different – like even today I have to take a rest because while I go on my Twitter, there's like half people praising what Afropolitan is doing, and there's the other half that “this is an FTX scam, fuck Sam, fuck you, this, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And then you have to do the thing where you're protecting your mental health while going through the process because you're still maintaining your mental fortitude because you know what you're doing is very important. But I think sometimes it just gets really exhausting, and you say to yourself like, we can do a much better job, especially because we're catering to a community that's highly aligned of creating social products or communication products or community products that are way better than what we have today.
[00:29:30] Jackson Steger: Really appreciate that. I think I have only one more question though. So much of what you're working on, so fascinating, so dynamic and multifaceted. What's your story before Afropolitan and how do you connect what you were working on before Afropolitan started to, yeah, your current mission?
[00:29:50] Eche Emole: So, it's funny, we were having this discussion last night. If you had told me this is what I would be doing with my life like two years ago, or even a year ago, I'd be like, “Get out of here. What are you talking about?” But I think my background was it was a multidisciplinary approach. So, I studied my bachelor's in political science in the U.S., did a master's in political science, also went to law school in San Francisco, but then pivoted from all of that into tech and FinTech. But while I was doing that, I was also in the entertainment and music space while also building up these events like at a large scale that catered to thousands of people.
[00:30:26] And so, I think when the pandemic hit, what it forced everyone to do is to sit with our choices. And I think one of the books a friend handed to me that has been the most impactful book of my life was Naval’s book, the Almanack of Naval Ravikant. And I remember reading it and finally like just being like, I get it now. I have a mental framework to operate for the rest of my life. And so, when I started discovering Balaji’s readings, or even going deeper into Web3, I think my mental framework or the models that I now started to operate started to fill in for me.
[00:31:01] And so, by the time December last year rolled around and this idea comes to me while I'm literally like sleeping and I have to wake up because I'm realizing my brain just wouldn't shut down, those mental frameworks allowed me to really truly see what this network state could be. And honestly, I feel like I wake up every already in it, and it's more of like the process of waiting until we actually get there in reality is what I'm trying to hopefully get to as fast as possible because it is so lit. It is so much fun. And I think sometimes, like one of the feedbacks that we get, because we always consistently have to refine and clarify our messaging, and sometimes as a founder, you're so close to it, like I live and breathe this. Like I'm sleeping at 2:00 AM or 4:00 AM most days. I wake up network state, I sleep network state, I'm literally always talking about Afropolitan. And I think for me it's like people can always see the passion and the intensities people bring to whatever project that they're speaking. And for me, this is like full skin in the game, like I don't see myself doing anything else 30 years from now, 40 years from now. This is it. Because I think, for me, what it allowed me to do is finally tap into my purpose.
[00:32:10] And I think that's what we're looking to recruit for other folks into our community, which is, look, if you're someone who's very dedicated and very audacious and you believe that you have more to contribute to humanity, this is a place for you. And we don't get intimidated by people who are excellent, right? This is a place where, if you're a master at your craft, you should feel comfortable coming here and thriving alongside other people who want to see you win and really thrive at scale.
[00:32:34] Jackson Steger: Really appreciate that. Actually, is there anything we haven't talked about or anything you want to plug to the audience? Where can they go for next steps on learning more about Afropolitan?
[00:32:45] Eche Emole: Yeah. No, thank you, Jackson. I think the website would be the best place, www.afropolitan.io. And if you get to the website, if you click on the community tab, you get access to, whether it's our Telegram or even a mailing list. So, I would urge folks to really go to the website. And I think, honestly, what we are really looking for are folks who are highly aligned towards our mission. If you identify with it, if you believe in what we're trying to do, we welcome you into the community. And yeah, honestly, it's a pleasure to have been here.
[00:33:14] Jackson Steger: Awesome. Looking forward to keeping up with your progress and seeing this diaspora in reverse really manifest into some land somewhere.
[00:33:25] Eche Emole: Honestly, we should talk about Cabin and Afropolitan co-events.
[00:33:29] Jackson Steger: Absolutely.
[00:33:29] Eche Emole: I know that will be good place to have members meet each other and connect.
[00:33:32] Jackson Steger: Lovely. To chat in real life soon.
[00:33:35] Eche Emole: Thank you so much, Jackson. Have a great one.