Spotlighting Africa’s leading women content creators
The online community has consistently evolved to add value to its users. This has created a platform for people to enhance and groom their passion, especially as online content creators.
Earlier this year, YouTube announced its inaugural class of African content creators who participated in an intensive three-week incubator programme, followed by training, workshops and networking session with seed funding to amplify fresh narratives and content that emphasise the intellectual power, passion and joy of the YouTube community; promoting black economic equity and well-being.
The Guardian Woman spoke to four young women, who are among the 23 YouTubeBlack Voices grantees selected from across Africa for being creative and tenacious role models. These African women are using YouTube as a platform to share (and grow) their passion by connecting with audiences beyond their local borders.
LADE Owolabi is a lifestyle content creator, based in Abeokuta, Nigeria. She started out her YouTube channel in 2015 with the sole aim of sharing knowledge. Though she didn’t have a niche at the time, she just wanted to help others people find their purpose and put them in the right direction.
According to her, “I started my YouTube channel while I was in school and it was monetised even before I graduated. When I got married and got pregnant, I had to take a break because it was a very rough time. When I had my baby, I was determined to share my journey to help other women. When we returned to Nigeria, we had a very tough time because we did not have much money anymore. Eventually, when it seemed like I was running into depression, my husband encouraged me to go back to my YouTube channel. Then, I got my breakthrough because money began to come in from my YouTube channel and I was able to pay my bills especially our house rent which was due at the time.”
For Owolabi, the reward for her contents is getting emails, comments and messages from those who have been impacted through her videos.
“One of the major highlights of how YouTube has impacted my life is that I have received awards with the kind of content I put on my channel. Last December, I got a car from a Real Estate company that watched my channel and they started an initiative to support Nigerians that are patriotic. Because I studied in the U.S, the award was to honour Nigerians who left where they were to come back home to give back.”
Speaking on being selected as one of the grantees, Owolabi said, “that was a big surprise to me because it came at a time when as a creative, I was having what we call a creative block. I was considering taking a long break from YouTube because the videos are very tasking to create. I had gotten selected before for the YouTube class of 2019, so when I got the call for the grant, I didn’t understand the implication until the announcement was made in January. That was when I realized there were just eight people selected in Nigeria and I am among. It was a life-changing moment for me. Three weeks of intensive training but the good part is that the facilitators had an open-door policy; we could ask them questions concerning the training.”
She however noted that with her Passion to profit workshop, she shares beneficial and insightful content that people have learnt from.
“As a woman, YouTube has given me independence; right now, I don’t just earn from my channel, I have five streams of income and all of them have come because of the experience I got from being on YouTube.
“The future of my channel will be to address issues on relationships and marriage. I am looking to create a community of people who will support and learn from one another’s experiences. In the near future, we will be having virtual meetings where we can pray together and talk about issues. Presently, I am taking pre-marital counselling, I hope to create a healthy community for thriving relationships and marriage.”
TOMIKE Adeoye is a media personality, TV host and actress based in Lagos, Nigeria. The bubbling lifestyle, events and reality YouTube content creator is passionate about storytelling, which solely influences her videos.
“I have always liked the idea of storytelling. Back then in school, I would make videos on my phone and I just enjoyed carrying people along in my life, more like my mini-reality show. I would put them up on social media, I started with Instagram before going on YouTube; I got to attend a lot of events and make people feel as though they were at those events, then I put them up on my Instagram stories, they use to be so long and people suggested that I put the videos up on YouTube so that they could go back to watch them.”
Adeoye who is inspired by her everyday experiences said a major challenge starting out was the awkward feel people gave while filming.
“They did not really understand content creation, people are just beginning to understand and learn about what we do. Then if you brought out your camera to film anything, they would ask if you must film everything. For me, I enjoyed going back to those memories so I never really cared what people said. I kept on filming what I wanted.
“Another challenge is editing because it is really time-consuming; it is hard combining that with presenting, influencing and other things I do. But at some point, I got an editor to help me edit. Although sometimes, even after his editing, I still add some of my input. However, filming in certain locations in Lagos is still a major concern. In other parts of the world, you could film at a restaurant or hotel because those places usually make the videos look pretty, but in Nigeria everybody wants to meet you and collect money once they see your camera.”
Adeoye who is also a brand influencer agrees that YouTube has afforded her the opportunity to explore her global world. “Even though my major audience were not on YouTube initially and who were mostly in Lagos, Nigeria, I have been able to build an audience on YouTube and it made me global to a large extent. The first time I visited the Unites States, I met at least ten persons who say they knew me from my channel and have become family members of mine.”
DINMA Umeh is a fashion enthusiast and makeup content creator. She started out as Datibochick and has metamorphosed to a Beauty and Lifestyle channel posting tutorials, review products from brands and tackling social issues since 2014.
According to her, “I had been watching YouTube videos for a couple of years since my university days. I would go there to watch make-up tutorials but the people in the videos were never Nigerians and a lot of times some of the products they used were not accessible. I began to think of how cool it would be for me to actually do this. I shot my first video as a corps member and from there I didn’t turn back. Initially, I never knew it was something that people could make money from; I had a video that went viral and the people in the YouTube office in Lagos contacted me and told me that they noticed that my videos are not monetized yet and put me through on how it could be monetized. When I made my first 100 dollars, I was amazed that you could make money from people watching you.”
Umeh noted that the training process as a selected grantee was very educative. “There are times that you feel you have seen it all but the thing about it is that there is always some information that you don’t know. I like the fact that the classes were held as a group so I met other African creators. We were taught a lot including how to teach, brand and work with clients outside the YouTube platform.
“The grant was one of the amazing things that happened to me because it was very unexpected and thoughtful of YouTube. The grant has helped me in many ways; I can now outsource things I couldn’t do all by myself and things that were slowing me down. It has further helped me with being consistent and productive.”
She added that the audience she predominantly speaks to are females, “but I wouldn’t say that being a woman has brought me this far, but I think that my gender has made my story very relevant. Some people felt that because I was not speaking primarily to men, there would be no audience for me but I like the trajectory that everything has taken, it has shown that women in our own right have very strong consuming power and so it made my story very relevant. However, the average Nigerian woman influences the kind of content I put out – things that affect women culturally, hence I am giving women a space where they could all come out and express themselves.”
On the challenges experienced, Umeh noted that electricity and Internet access is a limitation. “Our first-world colleagues cannot relate; they don’t understand what it means to be streaming a video and light goes off, also the Internet providers make it expensive for YouTubers to operate. I had to start doing a lot of planning by ensuring that my videos are ready two or three days ahead while also ensuring I have access to back-up electricity.”
KALUHI Adagala shares her culinary journey with easy recipes through her Youtube channel, Kaluhi’s kitchen. The multi-award-winning Kenyan blogger started out in 2018, which was an extension of her blog.
“I give out food recipes you can try out at home and enjoy. Creating content on Youtube is something I enjoy even though I didn’t plan to do it for a long time, but then it started paying financially. However, seeing my readers try out my recipes gives me fulfilment.”
Adagala who says it is an honour to be selected as one of the grantees noted that it reflects the quality of content that she is creating even though she is not one of biggest in the world. For her, the funds will be plugged to her business as a food content creator, while she could also consider publishing books or venture into TV production and other related businesses that will further scale her up. “The video editing classes was very insightful for me; hence I will get better equipments especially video lenses to improve my work. I also enjoyed the session about the art of storytelling, it was really insightful.”
On her advice to younger women looking up to take on content creation, she said, “Be your authentic self, because you will not appeal to everyone, it is not possible to make everyone happy. Secondly, the content you create must be of high quality. Thirdly, start with what you have and where you are, then you grow from there; a mobile phone is fine to start off, you don’t necessarily have to own a team.”