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For creative agencies in Ethiopia, finding the perfect image to tell a story can be a struggle. International stock photo platforms often lack the cultural nuance and local flavor needed to resonate with Ethiopian audiences.

FIRMA Media and Communications, an Ethiopian creative force specializing in documentation and branding, is taking on the challenge with StockAmba, an Ethiopian stock platform offering localized digital assets.

Akofada (DFS Ethiopia)

Launched around six months ago, StockAmba provides Ethiopian-inspired content reflecting the country’s culture, traditions, and values. The platform offers a variety of assets, including photos, mockups, icons, designs, templates, patterns, illustrations, and stickers.

The idea for StockAmba arose from the challenges FIRMA faced in the advertising sector. FIRMA Co-founder and Creative Director Fitsum Admasu explains, “We identified a gap in the market—a lack of high-quality local photos and videos for developers and marketing professionals to promote their products and services.”

Fitsum states that Stockamba not only offers pictures but also incorporates videos and fonts through a partnership with a company called Ambessa for the front aspect. Currently, only pictures taken by their crew are posted on the platform, but they are developing a framework to include other photographers’ photos.

The hesitation to incorporate other photographers’ pictures stems from the difficulty in setting prices for them, as it is challenging to determine the costs without knowing the photographers’ pricing structures. Fitsum explains that in their case, they pay models directly for shoots and handle the consequences internally. They have a sister company called Loga Talent that provides models for their photoshoots.

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“There’s a high demand for the kind of products we offer,” says Fitsum. “We have a wide variety of photos, including images of people using phones, specifically designed for startups and branding companies.”

StockAmba has sold over 1,000 stock images to clients who have used the photos for various projects. Photos featuring people using phones are particularly popular.

The platform’s usage agreement allows users to employ the assets for personal, commercial, or editorial purposes, including advertising, promotion, presentations, brochures, newsletters, books, and websites. Reselling, redistributing, or transferring the assets, or using them in a defamatory or illegal manner, is strictly prohibited.

Users can browse photos on the StockAmba website and add them to their cart. Free images are automatically downloaded upon checkout. Paid images can be purchased through Chapa. 

A Stock photo of two women working by StockAmba

Founded in 2014, FIRMA provides services in three core areas: documentation, communications, and visibility. Their portfolio includes Reqiq Insights, which transforms data into visual stories; Loga Talents, a platform for discovering and promoting talent; and Shera, a curated marketplace for Ethiopian artists and photographers.

StockAmba’s launch coincides with advancements in AI-generated imagery. OpenAI Sora is capable of generating hyperrealistic scenes based on text prompts. Although Sora was initially available only to visual artists, designers, and filmmakers, the company plans to make it publicly available later in the year. 

However, Fitsum remains undeterred. “Our target audience prioritizes original photos, and there will always be a demand for them,” he asserts.

One such customer of StockAmba is Brook Desalegn, founder and CEO of Barok Advert, who views StockAmba’s launch as a significant move. Brook explains that advertising companies like his struggle to find local pictures for banners and brochures, often resorting to generic templates that do not reflect the local context. He emphasizes the importance of representing local faces in advertising for local businesses.

Other platforms, such as, are preparing to enter the market, offering designers, photographers, and illustrators the opportunity to monetize their creative assets while providing users with a vast collection of high-quality design resources.

“We are already consulting with firms that are preparing to enter the stock collection business,” Fitsum added.

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Daniel, a writer and radio host, has a keen interest in technology. Additionally, he has supported various organizations by enhancing their digital presence in his role as a social media manager.