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Digital business news publisher Quartz has launched a new membership offering focusing on tech and innovation in Africa.

Quartz Africa membership is an expansion from the Quartz Africa Weekly, one of its flagship newsletter products launched in 2015. It focuses on innovation, experimentation, and problem-solving happening on the continent that was not being covered elsewhere in global business media.

Some stand-out stories include one on 'robocops' designed by a female entrepreneur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to tackle traffic problems, and how Kenya is the world's fastest country in terms of peer-to-peer cryptocurrency growth.

"We've managed to show the vibrancy that’s going on in the continent, especially where it relates to innovation," says Ciku Kimeria, editor of Quartz Africa.

Since then, Quartz Africa has amassed around 90,000 weekly loyal readers. To convert more of them to paying subscribers, Quartz has introduced a more affordable membership that serves up more of what these readers love. Quartz's main global membership tier stands at $100/year, whilst Quartz Africa is $60 annually (which works out as half the price of the $10 monthly subscription).

[Read more: Quartz bets on newsletters to drive reader revenue]

The new membership will grant access to exclusive content, including the newly created newsletter Quartz Africa Member Brief, which dives into the startups, innovators, and sectors that are driving Africa's technological boom.

Still, Africa is a continent with 54 countries. The publisher is spreading itself thin with just four in-house staff and a network of 20 freelancers to provide stories. This means they will have to be selective with what they report on.

The team focuses on the well-known fintech unicorns and success stories. The challenge will be to unearth the up-and-coming businesses that go under the radar.

"The priority will be surprising finds, [like] those working in robotics or artificial intelligence. Not naming any names," Kimeria continues.

"We need to stay true to the story that is: tech and innovation are growing in Africa."

Sizing up the opportunity

Internal surveys indicated that the majority of readers wanted this Africa-only product and they were willing to pay for it. Quartz declined to provide exact data but said readers clearly wanted more industry analysis, profiles and case studies.

There are other tech and innovation newsletters out there focusing on Africa. What sets Quartz apart is that it can provide analysis and comparison from its global coverage, which Kimeria identified as a key unfulfilled audience demand.

[Listen more: Katherine Bell, editor-in-chief of Quartz, on the power of newsletters]

Confidence to launch the membership also comes from Quartz's incredibly high newsletter conversions to paying subscribers. Its main free newsletter, the Quartz Daily Brief, has around 500k readers and that will help to get more people to see the value on offer.

"We do believe in the funnel. We do believe once you try our products for free, you get to see the value, then it’s an easier progression from there," says Kimeria.

Members also receive Quartz’s free newsletters, the Quartz Africa Weekly and the main newsletter Quartz Daily Brief. Delivered on Sundays, the Quartz Africa Weekly covers news and culture from the continent, local developments, emerging industries and important companies. Current subscribers will receive the Africa Member Brief email for a limited time as a free preview of the Quartz Africa membership.

Geographical verticals

Quartz Africa is the second of its geographical membership programmes, having launched Quartz Japan in 2019. That currently has 4,400 paying members, who receive a daily digest of global business. The goals are slightly different, as many of these readers use the publication to improve their business English.

Quartz Japan is in Japanese, and while not every article is translated, it aims to help readers understand a cross-section of key coverage each week, hence the higher price.

On the other hand, Quartz Africa wants to give the audience access to the coverage they most care about at a lower price point, or as an entry into what Quartz membership is all about. A large cohort of their readers are also CEOs, investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

"If they haven’t invested yet in Africa, they could read the newsletter and realise the size of the African opportunity. We’re exposing that to them," says Kimeria.

"But it’s not always investments that startups need, it’s also connections. Sometimes they need help with upskilling or diversity building."

By shining a light on the road bumps that startups in a given field or country encounter, the team are delivering crucial insights for active business leaders or potential investors.

"We hope this will inform their own business decisions, like whether they expand or partner up. It will give them an idea of what’s going on."

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