Hashtag Our Stories nets Snap Inc investment

Hashtag Our Stories, a participant in the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP), has been selected by Snapchat to take part in its inaugural incubator program Yellow. The incubation comes with $150,000 (R2.3m) in funding and business education in exchange for equity.

The Hashtag Our Stories team, Sumaiya and Yusuf Omar, will be incubated at Yellow’s offices in Venice just outside of Los Angeles, United States. During the three-month incubation they will experiment with Snapchat technology in line with their project that amplifies citizen journalism.

Hashtag our Stories was selected as a participant in SAMIP through its Innovation Challenge that ran late 2017. The program is an initiative that aims to accelerate digital media innovation among independent media outlets across South Africa.

“We are proud of Hashtag our Stories’ achievement which is a testament to the innovative thinking and approach by Yusuf and Sumaiya,” says Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) Program Director for Africa Bilal Randeree, “We look forward to seeing great things in their future.”

SAMIP provides funding and capacity building to help innovative media organisations find and tell impactful stories and develop new and sustainable business models. It was set up in 2017 by Media Development Investment Fund, a US-based not-for-profit investment fund for independent media around the world that provide the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies. The program is co-funded by the Open Society Foundation of South Africa and Omidyar Network.

Doing it for Madiba

The month of July has been dedicated to former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who’s sacrifice and work during the Apartheid era and into South Africa’s democratic freedom inspired millions. At the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) we have been inspired to find more ways to assist in the democratisation of our media space by supporting independent media.

Throughout the month of July the program has been hard at work with its grantees and beyond on ways to be conducive in the growth of a free press.

One of our grantees, Hashtag Our SA, participated in the biggest cleanup to take place on African continent. More than 6,000 people across nine different countries participated in this effort.

Our other grantees have also been busy throughout the month of July participating in media events and conferences to showcase their work and expertise.

Radio Days Africa

The largest radio conference on the African continent, Radio Days Africa, took place during the first week of July. The conference brought together stakeholders and interested parties in the radio and broadcasting space for a series of presentations and discussions about the industry and its future.

Three of our grantees, Children’s Radio Foundation, Volume and Soul City, had a presence at the conference where they got to present their projects and lead panel discussions.

Soul City presented their feminist platform, Not Yet Uhuru which will be seeing a big launch in the near future. The platform will feature discussions on topics such as  sex, friendship, alcohol abuse, financial independence and life in general.

Volume co-founder Paul McNally sat on an innovation panel on the last day of the conference where the future of the radio industry was discussed.

SAMIP at Hacks/Hackers

Our program officer, Siyabonga Africa, spoke at Hacks/Hackers Johannesburg’s media entrepreneurism event: How to be a media entrepreneur. The night was dedicated to discussing entrepreneurism in the news media space and how one can get involved in it.

Former Huffington Post SA editor-in-chief Verashni Pillay was also present to share on her experience with the news site that has now been shuttered by Media24. Pillay also touched on opportunities for startups in the media space and what is missing in the South African context.

General Entry

The program has officially closed applications for general entry. We started the process at the end of March this year and since then we have received more than 50 applications from some amazing projects, startups and organizations.

Our advisory committee deliberated on the finalists and we will update the public with regards to their decision once it has been approved by our board in New York City.

Moving forward

Now that general entry has closed the program will be taking inquiries for the foreseeable future. The inquiries are means for us to stay informed with regards to what interesting projects or organizations are out there in the independent media space.

As the year enters its final two quarters SAMIP will be working on providing capacity building initiatives for its grantees and our partners. We also will be attending some major media events in the upcoming months including: Media Indaba 2018 and the African Investigative Journalism Conference. We look forward to seeing and interacting with you all there.

SAMIP finds the next lit startups in Youth Month

The month of June is dedicated to the school pupils who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto. This year marked the 41st anniversary of the Soweto Uprising where 15,000 students gathered at Orlando West Secondary School with the intention of participating in a peaceful march to the nearby Orlando Stadium.

Having only been launched last year August the South Africa Media Innovation Program is young at heart. We’re still less than a year old but we’ve done so much in the intervening time between our start and today.

SAMIP hosted a Sales & Business Development Workshop which took place on the 6th & 7th of June. The workshop was attended by some of the SAMIP grantees, two MDIF clients and two organisations from JamLab. The workshop was facilitated by Carl Davis, Matthew Buckland, Riaan Wolmarans, and Chrizelda Viljoen.

SAMIP also participated in this year’s Duke Menell Media Exchange which took place on the 8th and 9th of June. SAMIP launched the #PerfectPitch challenge with the hopes of finding SA’s next lit media company. The winners of #PerfectPitch were GSport4Girls, Politically Aweh and Quintessential ZA. The winning startups will get a chance to be entered into our program through general applications, whilst also receiving some mentoring from Matthew Buckland.

The team has also been meeting with applicants for general entry into the program which is still open for innovative news and information services startups to enter.

Client Highlights

    • Our grantees participated in the Duke Menell Media Exchange, taking part in a number of workshops and panel discussions. Osiame Molefe from Collective Media Cooperative and Soul City Institute for Social Justice CEO Lebo Ramafoko who sat on a panel discussing missing narratives in South Africa.
    • Volume News: They made a presentation about their business in local community radio stations in front of the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, and the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
    • Digest: Dhanyal Davidson was invited to present his newsletter during a EdTech’s pitch evening within the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative. Digest also  launched a new website and new branding
    • Pocket Reporter has been converted into a web application after existing as an Android application since its initial development. The story generation tool also added more templates including a health story template in collaboration with Health-E News.

 

  • Hashtag Our Stories: They won the best social short form award, and best mojo marketing campaign, at the Mobile Journalism Festival which took place on the 29th – 31st May in Ireland.

 

 

May in review: Press Freedom in South Africa

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated earlier 03 May. According the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the date has been earmarked to: celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

According to the Reporters without Borders South Africa ranks 28th in world and third on the African continent on it’s World Press Freedom Index. South Africa’s position on this index is due to the country’s liberal constitution which enshrines freedom of expression and with it freedom of the press.

But apartheid-era legislation and the 2004 terrorism laws have been used to limit coverage of government institutions when “national interest” is supposedly at stake. Since 2015 the country has seen journalists being harassed and subjected to intimidation campaigns whilst covering the ruling ANC, government finances, the redistribution of land to the black population or the #Guptaleaks affair, all which are either off limits or provoke a hostile reaction from the authorities.

Now, more than ever, independent news media is needed not only in South Africa but the world. The South Africa Media Innovation Program is proud to be a part of the effort to promote press freedom and growth through our initiative that has provided grant funding to, so far, nine organizations and is still looking for more to fund in the near future

Notable Highlights

SAMIP advisory committee member and Wits Journalism lecturer Dinesh Balliah was named as one judges for the Forum for Community Journalist Awards 2017. Balliah will be judging the digital journalist category alongside SABC Digital News editor in chief Izak Minnaar.

Volume Media launched a new website. The startup, that was founded by Paul McNally and Roland Perron, remains committed in growing the community radio space in South Africa and has partnered with a number of local radio stations and NGOs in efforts to gather and broadcast hyperlocal stories.

Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar, from Hashtag our SA, were profiled by Business Insider. For the work they’ve done all over the world. The two continue to grow the mobile journalism space through training workshops and partnerships with universities.

Throughout the month of June the SAMIP will be going through applications for general entry as the program expands on its current cohort of participants. Remember to submit your organization or project to potentially get in our exciting initiative.

 

And the next lit news startup is…

GSport 4 Girls, Politcally Aweh and Quintessential ZA walked away with the grand prize at the SAMIP/Duke Menell Media Exchange’s first ever pitch battle called Perfect Pitch.

The three winners were part of a group of eight invited startups who got the chance to pitch their projects to our esteemed panel of judges consisting of: MDIF entrepreneur in residence Matthew Buckland, Wits Journalism lecturer and SAMIP advisory committee member Dinesh Baliah and SAMIP program manager Bilal Randeree.

The winning startups will get a chance to be entered into our program through general applications, whilst also receiving some valuable mentoring from Buckland.

The teams behind the winning pitches are:

GSport 4 Girls: Kass Naidoo and Ryk Meiring

GSport 4 Girls was established in August 2006 to raise the profile of women’s sport in SA and tell the ‘good story’ while encouraging Corporate South Africa to back our female athletes.

Politically Aweh: Stephen Horn

Politically Aweh is a video-first news & politics media brand. We are creating a high quality infotainment show in association with the award-winning online news publication, Daily Maverick.

Quintessential ZA: Quintus Potgeiter and Tayla Welch

Quintessential ZA is a content hub that has more than 9 podcasts running concurrently and a presence on YouTube. Quintessential ZA is building a new nation with the next generation. Their presenters are empowering their communities with quintessentially South African podcasts, video content, articles, and more.

Are you SA’s next lit news media startup?

The South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) in partnership with the Duke Menell Media Exchange will be holding a pitch battle, called Perfect Pitch, at this year’s conference, MMX18, which will be held June 8 and 9 at The Forum, The Campus, Bryanston, Johannesburg.

The contest will be the culmination of a three-part workshops series hosted by SAMIP at MMX.  In part one, Show and Tell, you’ll get a chance to check out some of the innovative projects that have received SAMIP support.  In part two, Think and Make, you’ll learn how you, too, can develop your ideas into a real business, how to envision a media start up project, build a workable business model, and frame a pitch to sell it.

In part three, Perfect Pitch, selected start-ups will get a chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, including SAMIP team members and Burn Media founder Matthew Buckland.  It’s a great opportunity to showcase your startup idea to the MMX community of news media influencers and thought leaders. Additionally, the winner will receive a special mentorship with SAMIP experts that  will give you the opportunity to take your project to the next level with advice on business development and innovation.

Here’s how to apply to be a candidate in The Perfect Pitch:

*In order to be eligible for entry your startup needs to be an innovative news and information services product/service/project, and it should be in operation for at least the last six months. While concepts are awesome, they won’t be eligible for entry.

So hurry up and enter here:

 

Freedom of expression through innovation

April is Freedom Month in South Africa as the country commemorates the first democratic elections that were held in 1994. During this time of reflection it’s pertinent to remember one of the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, that was adopted in 1996 under the Bill of Rights, is the right to freedom of expression which what empowers the free press in South Africa.

The South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) is honoured to participate in the growth of the news media industry through our initiatives in grant funding and capacity building. During April the program was hard at work guiding our current cohort of participants by matching them with mentors from the industry and providing them with insights in their projects.

We also began meeting with potential entrants who submitted their applications for general entry into our program. General entry is still open and we welcome applications from mission-driven startups, projects and organisations who have an eye for growth and sustainability in the field of work they’ve chosen.

Notable Highlights – client stories

Our grantees continue to put in good work as they push hard on progressing their respective projects and companies.

Hashtag Our Stories

At the beginning of April South Africa lost struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Hashtag Our Stories produced a video commemorating the late Mama Winnie which received more than 30,000 views on Facebook and Twitter.

Digest 

Digest: The “fun-nancial” newsletter has been hard at work delivering financial news in the quest of increasing financial literacy in South Africa. In the past month they launched a new website and have gone on to release their first e-book focusing on job hunting for new graduates. The e-book was the first in a series of publications on career progress and management.

The New Era

SAMIP was invited to attend the Association of Independent Publisher’s National Cooperative Training workshop. At the work shop Tom Nkosi was voted in chairperson of the AIP. Tom is the project leader on The New Era.

Soul City

Soul City CEO Lebo Mafoko and Activist Naledi Chirwa represented #NotYetUhuru at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women that took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018.

Events

SAMIP program officer Siyabonga Africa was invited to sit on a panel at the Journalism Media Lab’s (JamLab) open dialogue on “hacking” the media. The dialogue was sparked by major stories including: the managers of Gupta-bots, Cambridge Analytica stealing user data off of Facebook and the threat to the bottomline of newsrooms by owners of platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook.

Sitting on the panel with Siyabonga were Mail & Guardian editor Khadija Patel, Tiso Blackstar digital managing editor Riaan Wolmarans and JamLab director Indra de Lanerolle. The panel talked about a range of issues and threats to our industry but more than that they searched for answers to the questions that plague editors, publishers and broadcasters alike.

With the first quarter of the year behind us, SAMIP continues with its mission of accelerating the growth digital innovation in news media in South Africa and we look forward to engaging with stakeholders and entrepreneurs in the month of May.

SAMIP keeps marching on

March marks the end of the first quarter for 2018 for our young programme. The last three months have flown by in fast succession and it feels like yesterday when we introduced our current grantees to each other and began the process of mapping out the year ahead.

This month has been one in which the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) has begun in earnest to move on to the next stage: through networking, presentations and assessing applications for general entry into our programme.

Notable Highlights

As always we would like to highlight some of the great work our current cohort of participants have done in the past month. The chosen projects and organisations have been hard at work getting their initiatives up and running with some exceeding expectations.

Hashtag Our SA

The dynamic team that is Yusuf Omar and his wife Sumaiya were once again highlighted by international publications for their innovative work in the space of mobile journalism.

Reuters profiled the team as an example of how media organizations can increase their organic growth on Facebook. In a time when publications are in constant fear over changes to Facebook’s design and algorithm, and the effects it can have on their communities and reach, Hashtag Our SA have been able to thrive and grow exponentially within this precarious environment.

Digest

The “fun-nancial” newsletter has been hard at work delivering financial news in the quest of increasing financial literacy in South Africa. In the past month they launched a new website and have gone on to release their first ebook focusing on job hunting for new graduates.

Volume News

Volume News, or Volume as they’d like to be called now, offers a comprehensive radio content and advertisement service using bespoke software and hardware. The team has done well in growing their sales leads and the community stations that are now using their platform.

Collective Media Cooperative

The team led by Osiame Molefe have been hard at work growing their network of journalists and content contributors and have begun adding more publications which they will be regularly writing and producing pieces for.

These are just some of the highlights, in terms of coverage and work, of cohort who continue to progress in their missions to innovate in the news space in South Africa.

Events

SAMIP attended and participated in a number of events this past month.

At the beginning of March our program officer, Siyabonga Africa, got to attend the IAB Summit 2018 that was held in Kyalami. The Summit itself was themed around transformation and empowering young black media workers this year with some powerful lightening talks by up and coming creatives.

Our program assistant, Lerato, and program officer Siyabonga attended the launch of Buwa! A Journal on African Women’s Experiences by the Open Society for the Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA). The launch itself featured discussions on youth and young people in the African continent and the challenges facing them.

We also had a presence at the Taco Kuiper Awards 2017 that are held by Wits University’s journalism department. The awards highlighted the best in investigative journalism in the country.

And lastly SAMIP participated in the inaugural Oslo Freedom Forum Joburg – this was a localised version of the human rights conference. Several of our grantees were exhibited in the interactive expo and Hashtag Our SA co-founder Yusuf Omar was the MC of the proceedings.

General Applications

As the month came to a close SAMIP began shortlisting applications received since the opening of general entry into our program. General entry itself is not a guarantee of funding but would present an opportunity for those selected to benefit from the capacity building programs that SAMIP will be running.

The applications show, once again, the high calibre of ideas and projects that are present in the country and we look forward to adding new participants to our current cohort.

Mo’ letters, mo’ work

 

As January came to a close and the month of love began, the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) has been working hard on not only getting our first cohort of participants into the program but also developing strategies for bringing on more participants and increasing our reach and impact.

In the first week of February SAMIP got to work on completing the grant letters for the winners of the Innovation Challenge. The letters would give the participants access to the funds they won through Challenge and also provide a roadmap for them to grow into sustainable projects and organisations.

Having made some meaningful connections during our first workshop held in Johannesburg in January, the participants were ready get started on their projects as well as form partnerships in order to gain necessary skills, connections and resources from one another.

Notable highlights

Since the beginning of the year some of the participants have gotten straight to work in developing content and progressing their projects. From registering company names, to outputting engaging content the first cohort has made some notable progress in their quest to become sustainable or profitable.

Hashtag Our Stories 

Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar have been hard at work in developing the mobile video content. They launched their local Facebook page (Hashtag Our SA) in the middle of January and throughout February they posted videos that have gone on to garner more than 220,000 views on Facebook. When the late Hugh Masekela passed away, in January, they were quick to post this moving tribute to the legend.

They not only post social videos like the one above but they’ve also been experimenting with informative content that touches on issues such as fake news and the Winter Olympics. We highly recommend following their page which will grow in leaps and bounds over the next year.

Digest

Another one of our participants has also undergone some restructuring in terms of their project. Digest is a financial newsletter aimed at millennials. The team has big plans to bring financial services and education to the youth of South Africa. Currently they have begun archiving their content for the public to view past updates which include breakdowns on what the president’s State of the Union Address means for the economy.

They have also posted interesting threads on Twitter on topics such as the cabinet reshuffle that president Cyril Ramaphosa announced this past month, all with an eye on the effects on the economy and ordinary citizens.

Events

Our team has been attending media events and assisting with the planning of a few as well.

Earlier in February our program officer, Siyabonga Africa, was invited to represent SAMIP in the planning meeting for the Duke Menell Media Exchange 2018 that will be taking place in June this year. The exchange is a great opportunity for the journalism and media community to meet and engage over pertinent issues in the industry. Several of our participants will be involved in the exchange as speakers and content developers.

Our program officer also attended the IAB Digital Summit, held in Kyalami this year, where media workers and thought leaders gathered to learn about the latest developments in the industry and to network.

General Applications Open

Finally SAMIP has opened applications for general entry into the program. Since the middle of February applications have been streaming in and the team is hard at work analysing the submissions as they come in in order to find the next set of participants to the program.

We urge anyone who has a mission-driven project or organisation that is aligned with the focus areas, that SAMIP has laid out, to submit their applications. Applications have no deadline so interested parties should take their time to think through their submissions before applying. Entry into the program, through general applications, does not mean automatic funding but will give participants access to SAMIP’s capacity-building program and resources.

February was a busy month for the program and the participants and SAMIP will continue looking for opportunities to increase its impact in the South Africa news media industry.

Kicking off 2018 with a bang

2017 was a rollercoaster year for the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP): not only did we begin our program, at an event keynoted by Patrick Gaspard, now President of the Open Society Foundation, but we also opened up applications for our first Innovation Challenge that saw more than 200 applications from across South Africa competing for grant funding.

Between the end of August 2017 and the beginning of November 2017, SAMIP promoted its first Innovation Challenge through broadcast interviews, networking events and good old word of mouth.


Iono podcast of Program Officer Siyabonga Africa’s interview with Ashraf Garda on SAfm’s Media Show

After weeks of vetting, due diligence and an arduous selection process by our advisory committee nine finalists were chosen to not only receive grant funding but also become the first entrants in our program that seeks to tackle a number of issues in this country’s media landscape.

As a refresher the nine finalists/projects chosen are:

Children’s Radio Foundation

Collective Media Cooperative (Mosêlê)

Digest

Hashtag Our Stories (Hashtag Our SA)

Media Factory

The New Era

OpenUp/Association for Independent Publishers (Pocket Reporter)

Soul City Institute for Social Justice (Not Yet Uhuru Radio)

Volume News

SAMIP-Innovation-Challenge-winners

The representatives of the nine winning Innovation Challenge teams as well as the SAMIP team and MDIF deputy-CEO Mohammed Nanabhay. Photo: Siyabonga Africa

Straight into the frying pan

With the selection of the innovation challenge finalists behind us the next step was to get all of the people behind the projects, start-ups and nonprofits together in one room to plan out the year and find areas of overlap and potential partnerships.

The finalists are spread all over the country with some being based in the City of Cape Town, Western Cape, and others up north in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. We had to coordinate travel and accommodation in order to find that sweet spot where all of them would be able to meet in one room.

During the week of 15 January, the SAMIP team met with the Innovation Challenge finalists to discuss their projects and bring them on board the program. On 16 January we spent the day at the University of Witwatersrand’s Journalism Department in Braamfontein in a workshop where the teams got to present their projects/organizations and their plans for the year ahead.

It was an inspiring day where we not only got insight into the finalists’ projects but also saw the seeds of innovation in South African news media being planted as the teams began networking and making plans to collaborate on various side projects.

By the time the last finalist had met with the team and plans had been solidified the program was ready to move on to the next phase.

Client highlights

The end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 also featured some great success stories for some of our clients. Some of the highlights include:

Hashtag Our Stories was named MediaShift20 a list of digital media’s top innovators in 2017. This was the inaugural list by MediaShift that was derived from nominations from all over the world. Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar were recognised for their project that seeks to empower disenfranchised communities all over the world through the power of mobile video.

Hashtag Our Stories was also mentioned as a Champion of the Week by radio personality Ashraf Garda’s in his own project Champion South Africa.

Fast Company South Africa also named Digest one of the most innovative start-ups in 2017.

And for their work in using data journalism to tell stories in innovative ways OpenUp was commended by the judges at the national 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.

What to look out for

As we head into February 2018 expect some major announcements from the SAMIP team as we prepare to open up the program for general entries and our clients begin the hard work of getting their projects either off the ground or further up the pipeline.

We look forward to many more months of empowering and assisting South African news media grow and develop as our program gains momentum.