FOMBILLION is a vertically integrated creativity company, creating and providing diversified cultural solutions that add value to brands and lifestyles. FOMBILLION started from very humble beginnings in 1988, by a then 13 year old student ARMSTRONG FOMBI, on the campus of CPC Bali, Bamenda.
COMPANY HISTORY AND MAJOR TIME LINE
In actual fact, the history of FOMBILLION is better understood when you read alongside the early career profile of the company’s founder. Born on April 16th 1975, Armstrong Fombi, also known as King Armstrong DeGreat, started his journey in the creative sector, at a very tender age. He took interest in singing and acting in nursery school stage presentations.
In primary school, he started drawing, designing houses, writing songs, listening regularly to his favourite artist – Jimmy Cliff, writing fan mails to “Reggae Time” an 80’s show on former “Radio Bamenda”, and also became a member of the “Bamenda Red Cross Band”. In 1985, he attended his first live music concert and also recorded his first demo in 1986, with his father’s radio cassette recorder and a guitar, which he crafted. Still in primary school, he was a regular visitor to the Bamenda Museum and Cultural Centre, and also found strong interest in reading novels, magazines and newspapers, which he often got from his father’s vast print media collection.
In 1988, His creative entrepreneurial spirit started manifesting at aged 13, as a student in the prestigious Cameroon Protestant College (CPC Bali), when he created TANA (Two “A” News Agency), a campus based Information portal, whereby, he will go to the school library, cull various human interest stories from newspapers and re–write them out in briefs, on A3 size sheets, then paste them up twice a week in the class room for his mates and teachers to read. Interestingly, TANA still exist, but as a major subsidiary of FOMBILLION, renamed FOMBITANA, a multimedia company.
In 1989, still under TANA, he applied to the International Youth Service and received Pen Pal forms with which he connected students to foreign Pen Pals, in return for 300 CFA per form.
He kept on doing musical performances and sketches on campus, and in 1990, adopted his first showbiz name “Ramzy”. In 1991, he teamed up with four school mates and created a music group called “Busy Boys On The Track”. During the long holidays of 1991, he went solo and started taking dance lessons at GRAFIGANG, a defunct dance school in Bamenda, while writing songs, and performing in talent shows within Bamenda.
In 1994, he adopted a different showbiz name “Dazzling Fombi” and was already a prominent hip-hop artist on the underground music scene in Bamenda with a few demo recordings to his credit.
In 1995, aged 20, the challenges of getting a record deal and a failed attempt to get a scholarship to study music business management in Berkllee College Of Music, USA, motivated him to create DAZFOM Entertainment.
In early 1996, he applied to La Republique du Cameroun’s Ministry of Culture and was granted an authorisation to operate as a Cultural and Show Business Promoter. Under DAZFOM Entertainment, he started Managing Artists and Producing Talent Shows, Small Concerts and House Parties.
In September 1996, DAZFOM Entertainment successfully organised “Remember Tupac Shakur”, an event to commemorate the passing of Rap Music Legend Tupac Shakur. In November 1996, DAZFOM Entertainment started a T-Shirt line called HI DAZZLING, which will later be revamped and renamed Dazzlingfombi.
In December 1996, DAZFOM Entertainment created and produced the commercially successful “Bamenda Amateur Music Awards”, with its criteria based on a three month weekly Talent Show that was organised by Master Ngwa-Ngwa.
Between 1997 and 2000, he studied for a B.A Degree Course in Performing Arts, in Yaoundé University One, and also, started attending various seminars and conferences. Throughout university, he carried on with activities of DAZFOM Entertainment, shuttling between Bamenda and Yaoundé.
Upon the liberalization of the audiovisual sector in La Republique du Cameroun in the year 2000, he changed the name from DAZFOM Entertainment to ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW, and expanded into the production of Radio and TV Adverts. That same year, he started “Scenerybills”, a tourism agency, but by 2001, the challenges in raising 15.000.000 CFA, a requirement from the Tourism Ministry of La Republique du Cameroun, to operate a tourism agency, forced him to halt the activities of SceneryBills. It is worth noting that SceneryBill was revived in 2016, and renamed “FOMBITRATOU”, a travel and tourism agency, which is another unit of FOMBILLION.
In 2002, ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW, published the first issue of “UPKONTRI” a promo publication, edited by King Armstrong, who immediately moved the company’s office from his parents compound to the 4th floor, suite 402, NWCA building, Commercial Avenue, Bamenda.
Between June 2003 and June 2004, ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW, produced a full season of the highly rated black music radio show titled “DIOBORIM” which aired on “Abakwa FM” in Bamenda.
In November 2004, the company, launched its second publication “PEEVEE”, a success story publication. It is worth noting that “PEEVEE” was reconceptualised and renamed “PVI” in 2015. That same year, the company started producing and pitching pilots for TV Shows like “Fombilystik”, “DIOBORIM TV Version” “UPKONTRI Lively”, and “HippiAfrica”, to Douala based TV channels like STV and Canal 2, but to no avail.
In 2005, the company began producing corporate videos for clients like the top Yaoundé based marketing agency called Regie Star, PNEU Bamenda, TOPROC Finance, etc. And also provided video coverage services.
In April 2006, ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW created its music unit called FOAMIE, which officially released the highly successful “Golden Age Souljah”, the debut solo album by Hip-Hop star Fusi.
In mid 2006, ARMSTRONG-FOMBI OUTFLOW was accredited as Cameroun’s representative of African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).
In March 2007, the company created four other subsidiaries “FOMBITAIZING”, a marketing agency, “DAZFOMBI”, a variety events company and “FOMBIREADABLE”, a publishing company and “FOMBITANA”, a multimedia company.
In April 2007, “BamendaAlive”, the company’s 3rd publication was launched to rave reviews. BamendaAlive instantly became a success with an increasing advertiser portfolio and circulation.
In November 2007, DAZFOMBI started “UPKONTRI Discussion Forum”, a made-for-TV event aimed at discussing the forward in various economic sectors, the event will later be renamed “UPKONTRI FORUM”, and in December of 2007, DAZFOMBI produced the 1st edition of BAVENTI Awards, which will also be renamed “BAVENTI FESTIVAL”.
In 2008, the company’s CEO Armstrong Fombi, changed the company’s name to ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP, and increased the staff to eight, five permanent staff and three part time staff.
In March 2008, the DAZFOMBI commenced work on the “Miss Beautyvigence Pageant”, which also led to the creation of “Miss Beautyvigence Leadership Forum”.
But on November 28th 2008, disaster struck the fast growing ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP, when fire broke out from nowhere and disrupted the 1st edition of “BamendaAlive Fashion Party” a sold-out red carpet event, which combined the finals of Miss Beautyvigence 1st edition and a lavish banquet with comedy and music performances. The event was holding at “Central Park Hotel”, former Ideal Park Hotel, Bamenda, and by God’s special grace, all the attendees, Miss BeautyViGence finalists and production crew members, came out of the building without a single scratch “GLORY BE TO JESUS”.
However, ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP incurred losses of more than 6.000.000 CFA, in terms of equipment, gadgets, other valuables, etc. Efforts to get a compensation from the hotel’s management, proved abortive. Till date, the source of fire remains a mystery.
Despite the ordeal, ARMSTRONG-FOMBILLION GROUP pressed on with its major business activities: Event Production, Audio Visual Production, Marketing and Publishing.
In 2009, the company included training to its services and started organising short periodical training courses in selected domains in Arts and Media.
In April 2010, DAZFOMBI produced the 2nd edition of Miss BeautyViGence, and in November 2010, 2nd edition of Miss BeautyViGence Leadership Forum was also produced.
Furthermore, Armstrong Fombi admitted, in December 2010, he forcefully took a very bad decision by halting the company’s events production and publishing operations just to focused on TV production with the aim of producing various magazine shows to be sold to foreign TV broadcasters.
This move failed terribly after the company invested almost all of its funds in acquiring some audiovisual equipment hoping to attract investors to fund the acquisition of more expensive but relevant equipment. Unfortunately, all prospective investors responded negatively. This adverse outcome took a huge toll on the company’s finances, especially at a time when the company’s event productions and publications had all been put on hold.
In 2012, in the mist of crises, the company through its publishing subsidiary FOMBIREADABLE, resumed publishing with the creation of a blog called GOCO MARKET, a promo publication that profiles entrepreneurs, executives and companies, as a prelude to launch of a print version.
By the middle of 2012, the company was still in a terrible financial situation and could not pay staff salaries and office rents. As a way of sustaining the company, Armstrong Fombi strategically moved the office back to their family home.
In 2013, FOMBIREADABLE resumed printing of UPKONTRI Magazine, and also launched the print version of GOCO MARKET, but shut down the GOCO MARKET Blog. Both publications picked up successfully with positive response from advertisers and readers.
By June 2014, the company moved its operations to THINK TANK PLUS, a media company, where it’s CEO Walters N. Ntumngia, offered free space in their reception.
December 2014, came with a re-branding process, which led to a decision to drop the name ARMSTRONG from the company’s name and, in January 2015, the company officially became known as FOMBILLION, with a whole different logo.
In February 2015, the company’s events subsidiary DAZFOMBI, announced the production of a new event called “GOCO IDEASMARKET” a platform for the exchange of Knowledge and Contacts, which ends with a sumptuous party. The event was produced in March 2015, and it was such a resounding success by all standards.
By the end of March 2015, the company moved from THINK TANK PLUS to its newly rented premises located in the exclusive Up Station area of Bamenda.
In 2016, the company resumed printing of BamendaAlive, and also thrived with its events subsidiary DAZFOMBI, which lucratively produced eight events from its events portfolio between January 2016 and December 2016.
By January 2017, FOMBILLION had achieved sound stability with its operations thriving successfully especially FOMBILLION’s events subsidiary DAZFOMBI, which earned far more revenue in 2017, than the other subsidiaries. DAZFOMBI provides events equipment and logistics, produces events for various clients, and also produces its own yearly, monthly and weekly events like: GOCO IDEAS MARKET, GOCO AWARD, UPKONTRI AWARD, UPKONTRI FORUM, PVI COCKTAIL, YOCICOPO AWARD, YOCICOPO ACTIVATE, MISS BEAUTYVIGENCE, MISS BEAUTYVIGENCE LEADERSHIP FORUM, CIMSY VIBE, BAMENDA JAM ALIVE, BAVENTI FESTIVAL, BAMENDA CITY OF ARTS FESTIVAL, etc.
In the first and second quarters of 2018, FOMBILLION started three other subsidiaries namely: FOMBILYCIOUS – The Healthy Living Products Company, kicking off with the production of FOMBILYCIOUS COOKIES. FOMBIWEARABLE – The Designer Fashion & Style Company, which came with the re-conceptualisation of its 1996 T-Shirt line called HI DAZZLING, renaming it Dazzlingfombi, which is a designer brand for adults and children wares. And, FOMBIRWANDA – The Multicultural Services Company, under which FOMBILLION operates in the nation of RWANDA, its first international expansion move.
Moving on, the entire FOMBILLION team is very determined in achieving the company’s overall mission to “Create And Provide Diversified Cultural Solutions That Add Value To Brands And Lifestyles”. WATCH THE SPACE.