#YouTubeBlackVoices creator class of 2021 — Nicolette Mashile and Owamie Hlongwane have 'big plans'
2021 has started on a high note for SA YouTube stars Owamie Hlongwane and Nicolette Mashile who have made it into YouTube's inaugural black voices creator class, proving the magnitude of influencer culture in SA.
Owamie and Nicolette are among 20 YouTubers from the continent and 132 content creators globally, who will receive funding to help develop their content. The group will also attend a three-week incubator programme, receive training, attend workshops and networking programmes.
YouTube is excited to support and amplify the voices of black creatives, said Alex Okosi, MD, Emerging Markets, YouTube EMEA.
“African creators on YouTube are reshaping the power of our platform by providing a unique perspective on all manner of topics from fashion and comedy to politics, learning and wellness. Through their content, these creators continue to raise the bar for how others engage with their audiences and build community on our platform,” he said.
Nicolette, known among her 129,000 YouTube subscribers as the “financial bunny,” applied for the programme last year. She found out about it during a virtual interaction with other black content creators facilitated by Okosi.
Launched in 2017, her channel focuses on financial education and tackles familiar topics like stokvels and unfamiliar ones like investments and buying shares from big companies. She told TimesLIVE on Wednesday that the programme will help grow her channel.
“I've got very big plans for my channel. One of the things I wanted to do is to have more faces on my channel as I didn't want to be the only one creating content for the Financial Bunny. I believe that there are a number of people that come with different experiences and can offer education on financial literacy.
“I've had this dream of turning the Financial Bunny channel into a multi-content type of channel and I think this opportunity with YouTube has really just amplified that need and that desire.”
She added that the support would help grow a channel dedicated to financial education.
Popular niches in the SA YouTube space include beauty, lifestyle, entertainment and comedy. But, when Nicolette entered the space, she took the road less travelled with financial literacy.
“Often, people have this perception that money is boring or learning about money is boring or taboo but the reality is that people need the content. For me, the reception on YouTube has really been exceptional,” she said.
Owamie Hlongwane- Owamie Entertainment
The bubbly entertainment commentator has built a solid following of 160,000 subscribers since 2017. Her channel boasts over 33 million video views according to Social Blade.
In an exclusive interview with TimesLIVE, she attributed her hard-earned success to consistency, authenticity and a good rapport with her subscribers, whom she calls her “ninjas”.
The programme, she said, will amplify the voices of African content creators and level the field among YouTubers globally. When she first started on YouTube, Owamie had her fair share of struggles.
Reflecting on her earlier days, she said: “My biggest challenge when I started YouTube was money. I was poor, I didn't have data and I think that was the biggest struggle for me when I started. I was not in a position where I was getting wi-fi ... I was limited because I didn't have the resources.”
On top of that, she had to teach her audience about the platform.
“I remember when I started my channel people were asking me [whether they needed to pay to subscribe to my channel]. People didn't know anything about YouTube. I started back in 2017 and it's not even that long ago but as a platform in Africa, you need to gain momentum,” she said.
Owamie says it's upwards and forward for African content creators.
“When companies look at YouTube saying they will invest in and support its content creators in Africa, it means that other companies will follow suit. What YouTube is doing is giving us a pedestal so that we can also get to that level where we're able to play fair with the other guys,” she said.