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Utah student starts publishing firm to highlight stories from Africa

Kenechi Uzor, who is originally from Nigeria, created Iskanchi Press to share stories written by African authors.
Utah student starts publishing firm to highlight stories from Africa
Posted at 3:01 PM, Feb 21, 2024

A Utah student from Nigeria is focused on telling authentic stories about Africa through his new publishing firm.

Kenechi Uzor moved to Utah nearly a decade ago, following his wife in nursing school at Utah Valley University. He quickly realized there were a lot of misperceptions about Africa and wanted to make a change. 

Uzor started with several writers and books lined up, ready for distribution, that explored his home continent.

“What does life feel like in Africa?" he reflected. "If the movies or media is not doing that well, that’s what we need to change. We’re going to write stories and share perspectives and ideas that are actually representative of what Africa looks like right now.”

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Uzor assembled books by a half-dozen African authors, but needed some expertise to help him navigate the world of publishing. 

Through his research efforts, he found a unique program at the Lassonde Institute at the University of Utah. Their Masters of Business Creation program helps budding entrepreneurs grow companies they‘ve already started.

“How do you accelerate revenue, how do you market, how do you sell, how do you hire people, how do you raise capital?" said Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute "So it’s a program unique to the University of Utah.”

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D’Ambrosio said the program acts as an accelerator and is currently helping more than 80 businesses, including Iskanchi Press, Uzor's publishing company. Thanks to the mentorship he's receiving, Uzor said he'll publish six more books by the end of the year.

While most of the books he publishes are in English, others are translated from various African languages. The topics of the books will cover a broad spectrum, including a writer from Mauritania who has an African-themed science fiction novel.

“I like to give back to the community that supports me," Uzor reflected. "It’s been amazing, really — a wild ride!” 

This story was originally published by Scott McKane at Scripps News Salt Lake City.

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