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#YouTubeBlack Voices fund inspires growth of African creators

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YouTube, the leading online video community, demonstrated its unwavering commitment to amplifying black content creators in Africa during a two-day event held in Nairobi, Kenya. The event served as a platform to celebrate the 2023 #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund grantees while fostering connections, networking, and collaboration among creators.

The celebrations in Kenya brought together over 100 black creators from around the world, showcasing the profound impact of the YouTube Black Voices Fund since its inception. Launched in 2020 with the aim of investing in talent and presenting fresh narratives that emphasise the intellectual power and authenticity of black voices, the programme has supported more than 500 creators and artists in growing their channels and expanding their audiences.

The #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund has not only celebrated but also nurtured black artistry worldwide, forming an integral part of the platform’s commitment to supporting Africa’s creative ecosystem.

YouTube plays a pivotal role in the discovery and development of African culture, and the fund takes it a step further by equipping emerging black creators, artists, songwriters, and producers with the resources they need to succeed on the platform.

“When we announced the $100 million fund to amplify black and African voices and perspectives on our platform, we wanted to create a space where black people can share their own stories, in their own voices, with the world. The fund has, in many ways, created opportunities to amplify, celebrate, and cultivate black artistry for a global audience,” expressed Alex Okosi, YouTube’s managing director of emerging markets, EMEA.

The impact of the BVF programme has been life-changing for many participants. Osereme Egbor from Nigeria, a member of the BVF class of 2023 and creator of Styleby Reme, shared, “Being a part of the BVF programme class of 2023 has literally changed my life. I moved from creating content in a room that I used to share with my sister to getting my own space. I was also able to get better filming equipment like ring lights and tripods, which I needed to increase the quality of my videos.”

Apart from funding, creators received valuable one-on-one mentorship and attended classes on revenue growth strategies. Wongel Zelalem, a Kenyan creator, expressed gratitude for the dedicated strategic manager assigned to her, who provided solutions to her challenges, saying, “That was something that I didn’t know I needed in my life.”

YouTube reaffirmed its commitment to amplify black voices in Africa with a two-day event in Nairobi, Kenya to celebrate the 2023 #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund grantees and allow them to connect, network and collaborate with other creators. Photo: Supplied
YouTube reaffirmed its commitment to amplify black voices in Africa with a two-day event in Nairobi, Kenya to celebrate the 2023 #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund grantees and allow them to connect, network and collaborate with other creators. Photo: Supplied

Thato Rampedi, a South African creator, also acknowledged the transformative impact of the YouTube Black program, stating, “YouTube Black has taught me a whole lot of things about how to be a really good creator.”

The growth of creator channels in Africa has been evident. YouTube data from December 2022 revealed a significant increase in the number of channels generating 100k or more in revenue across South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

In South Africa, such channels increased by over 30 percent year-on-year, while in Nigeria, the percentage rose by more than 15 percent. Kenya experienced a remarkable increase of over 25 percent in the number of channels reaching this revenue milestone.

Additionally, the number of channels with over 1 million subscribers witnessed notable growth. In Nigeria, the count surpassed 45 channels, marking a 50 percent increase year-on-year. South Africa saw 25 channels cross the 1 million subscriber mark, reflecting a growth rate of over 30 percent. In Kenya, over 14 channels achieved the same milestone, with a staggering growth rate of more than 110 percent.

Beyond the Black Voices Fund, YouTube remains dedicated to prioritising and uplifting black creators, artists, and content through various programmes, initiatives, and platform enhancements.

Alex Okosi emphasised this commitment, stating, “We’re committed to ensuring that black creators from Africa and around the world find a home on YouTube, and we are investing in strategic partnerships with culturally relevant organisations to ensure that we can reach and assist even more creators and artists.”

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