JOHANNESBURG: Nunu Ntshingila, the regional director of Facebook Africa, recently gave some members of the media a tour of its new office at Culross on Main in Bryanston, which not only represents Facebook's vision for openness and connectivity but its connectedness with its staff who are very much seen as humans with a social life beyond the workplace.
Welcoming us to the new space, Ntshingila gave an overview of their journey over the last 23 months and where they find themselves today.
What started in July 2015 as a team of 4 to 5 people based in a rented office space in Melrose Arch, is now a formidable team handling developers, agencies, clients and civil society. “The team here handles close to 75 big advertisers throughout the continent and these range from big clients like the 'Coca-Colas', the 'Unilevers' and some of what we call our digital natives; our biggest of these is Jumia, based in Nigeria. Although we focus on South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, some of the clients we deal with actually go beyond those three key markets,” said Ntshingila.
The focus of their work in Africa is around making sure that they establish partnerships, and this building is an opportunity for them to meet, collaborate and innovate with their partners throughout the ecosystem, she said.
In terms of the actual platform, Ntshingila says they’re excited by the continued growth of their user numbers, which have grown by 42% since Facebook announced its presence in Africa. “We were sitting around 120 million monthly active users; we're now well over 170 million monthly active users on the continent.”
The space represents Facebook's vision for openness and connectivity with its open-plan layout and many meeting rooms, tying in local elements to keep it relevant. “The office space will be a hub for innovation for the industry, welcoming partners such as industry bodies, institutions and associations, agencies, civil society and policymakers who share Facebook’s aim of fostering progress and creativity in Africa."
Facebook worked with three local artists on the new main artwork inside the reception area, namely Cameron Platter, Hlengiwe Dube and Lyndi Sales, who form part of a global Facebook programme called Artists in Residency, also known as AIR. The furniture was also locally sourced, so the space is really an African-inspired version of the headoffice in California.
Employees occupying the space contributed their ideas to shape the décor of the office. For example, the Baobab tree made from wood, also in the entrance area, engraved with greetings from all eleven official languages of South Africa, the safari-themed break-out area that was a result of a team hack, and the names of the meeting rooms named after iconic African words, like Bonga Mbaya, Ngorongoro and Qunu. Just to mention a few.
Heck, there's even a mother's room where you can spend time with your baby, a gym area and a massage room, apparently. You have to see it to believe it...