Afropolitan Works to Build Network State Aimed at Fostering Black Community

Afropolitan is in the first stage of its four-part plan to create the world’s first digital nation.

Written by Charli Renken
Published on Aug. 22, 2022
Afropolitan Works to Build Network State Aimed at Fostering Black Community
afropolitan founders
Photo: Afropolitan

Sure, the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of San Francisco’s rising startups from last quarter here.

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What if Facebook was a country and not just a social media platform? It would have its own laws, currency and culture decentralized from the world around it, and with 2.9 billion users, it would be the largest nation on earth. That’s the idea behind Afropolitan, an early-stage metaverse company working to create the first-ever digital nation, also known as a Network State

While Afropolitan first started as an events organizer that catered to the African diaspora, the company realized it didn’t want to be limited to parties and concerts; it wanted to “go through life with [its] community,” Afropolitan founder Echeme Emole told Built In.

When Covid-19 hit, the company pivoted to digital media experiences, building a 50,000-person community of “Afropolitans” on the app Clubhouse. The company has since launched its own podcast and is currently working on a four-part plan to turn its online community into an actual, physical nation for the African diaspora.

What is a Network State?

  • Popularized by Counsyl co-founder and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, a Network State is a digital community that builds its base and capital until it is able to materialize as a physical nation on actual land. 
  • Source: “How to Start a New Country” by Balaji Srinivasan.

“African countries were put together by accident and force. We have suffered the consequences of that decision with no light at the end of the tunnel,” Emole told Built In via email. “We believe that by working with the best minds and leveraging current technology, we can build a country by reflection and choice; A nation people opt into, launched first as an online community before materializing physically on land after reaching critical mass.”

Currently, the company is in stage one of its four-part plan, which involves building out its network, communicating its vision for the digital nation and the release of an NFT campaign that will serve as a digital passport. The company recently raised $2.1 million in seed funding to accelerate its mission.

Eventually, Afropolitan plans to “build up legitimacy through state capacity,” develop its own internal economy and buy land to become a physical presence.

“Afropolitan’s goal is to create an all-in-one solution for Africans that improves the overall quality of their lives both online and offline,” Emole said. “Curating Black and African talent, culture, capital, information and experiences and drawing from them to build a nation that would push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

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