The basketball player enjoying the ride in business
Antonio Depina went from shooting a basket to climbing the corporate ladder. Cape Verde’s soft-spoken entrepreneur makes it rain for business.
“Someone has to do it, so I always tell myself ‘okay, I’m going to do it,'” says Antonio Depina, who is not the average 26-year-old from the hot tropical island of Africa. Western Cape Verde.
2021 FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list-maker known for its mobile app bringing the talented professional basketball players of their dreams together, especially in Africa, is now also launching a ridesharing app named Zoomly.
Born in Wilmington, also known as the business capital of America and the largest downtown in the state of Delaware, the concept of Africa was never foreign to him. Depina jokes that because her father is Cape Verdean and her mother is Liberian, West Africa has always run in her veins.
“Both of my parents always said I had to come back to Africa. They always said that once I establish myself in America, I have to be part of the change in Africa, ”Depina told FORBES AFRICA. “But I didn’t know that I would end up wanting to participate in creating solutions not only for my country (Cape Verde) but also for the whole continent.”
Depina believes he is an American with the African dream of making sure he can be part of the solutions to the problems on the continent.
“Africa kind of attracted me, attracted me here,” he adds.
But it is because of his deeply rooted love and respect for Africa that Depina is now determined to build his legacy around the upliftment of Africa and its people.
In April 2020, in a small room in Delaware, Depina launched her first business, Overseas Basketball Connection (OBC) with the vision of bringing the talented professional basketball players of their dreams together, especially in Africa. The mobile app connects to professional basketball teams around the world without the help of an agent.
“I was doing everything I could to be able to afford and create the OBC mobile app. I sold Cantilever, Amazon-Flexed Controllers in the trunk of my car; anything i could do to make money for marketing and app development. There were so many disappointments from the developers that I ended up coding and creating it myself. I had every reason to give up, ”says Depina.
It was also his vision to be on the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list.
In June 2021, Depina was on the list and on the cover of the magazine. He says it was the highlight of his year.
“My life has changed a lot, especially in the sense of recognition. Being on FORBES AFRICA’s 30 Under 30 list has kind of caught the attention of different investors, and you get respect from different
entrepreneurs across the continent. And not just the continent, but the world. Having that FORBES branding on your back and on your business takes you and your business to another level.
The former basketball player and Netflix reality star decided to launch Zoomly out of sheer personal need: “I was going out one night and I realized” damn, why is it taking so long for me to have a taxi “.”
Part of the reason Depina wanted to create the online calling app was also to shatter stereotypes other parts of the world may have about Africa not being part of the digital realm.
“I was lucky to be born in America, which is very developed like South Africa. I was impressed with South Africa when I visited the country. I was like, ‘oh, my gosh you got Pizza Hut and Uber and all that stuff’. It’s not the side of Africa that we learned in school in America, to be honest… I don’t blame the people in America, I blame the education system because we haven’t learned these things . We have not been taught that Africa is a booming economy and that Africa is about to explode. I think it will be the next biggest continent.
Depina believes that the future of business and growth lies in Africa and that starts with wanting to create solutions for the continent.
“My passion for technology came from seeing all that was in America, then coming to Africa and seeing what was needed, and saying I can find a solution to that.”
Zoomly will be launched on December 18 in Cape Verde only and with an expansion plan in different parts of Africa where transport is not a top priority.
“Accessibility will be a problem but in Cape Verde I think we are lucky because around 80% of households have smartphones and around 60% have Wi-Fi access,” says Depina.
Living “no regrets”, Depina wants this business to leap and mark not only for profit, but for the development of the African economy and to help those in need.
“I’m not someone who starts businesses just for money, I only start businesses that help people,” Depina says. “In the first few months, I sort of sacrifice profit for growth. I’m not looking to make millions in the first few months, I’m looking to see as many users as possible.