The last 18 months have been unlike anything we have ever experienced as a society. Nobody could have predicted that a global pandemic would force us all indoors as lockdowns changed the landscape of our continent, However, it is during times of extreme adversity that inspiration can often strike, and during the dark times of lockdown, a streaks of silver linings appeared across Africa in the form of exciting digital innovations.
Today, we take a moment to hail just a few of those Changemakers. For this unique edition, in partnership with Meta Africa, we are thrilled to be sharing stories of inspiring African entrepreneurs and creators who have overcome challenges by reinventing themselves on digital platforms.
From those who took their stores online to those who used instant messaging to bridge the online education gap – we hail each and every one of these Changemakers below.
These Changemakers Made All The Difference In 2021
Cakey by Davey Tsopo
Davy Tsopo, a small business owner in South Africa, embarked on an incredible journey during lockdown. After being retrenched from his role as a restaurant cleaner, he started a cake baking business called Cakey by Davy. By showcasing his baking talents on Instagram and Facebook, Davy was able to build a loyal following and a long list of clientele.
Commenting on Meta’s impact on his business, Davy said, “Facebook has put me in front of my potential customers. People started following me and that led to getting lots of orders. The growth has exceeded my expectations. Without Facebook, I wouldn’t have any business.”
Mangishi Doll by Kapasa Musonda
Fashion designer Kapasa Musonda is another local innovator and creative who celebrates women from all over the world with her vibrant fashion line Mangishi Doll. A multi-cultural brand that lives to Inspire!
She has dressed many influencers and celebrities, including Juicy J, Michelle Williams, Angela Bassett, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Vonneta Stewart.
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My Body My Space by PJ Sabbagha Namatshego Khutsoane
The creative industry was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Innovators such as PJ Sabbagha and Namatshego Khutsoane of the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) turned to WhatsApp to keep their progressive arts flag flying. They hosted the world’s first arts festival, My Body My Space, on the mobile app, featuring more than 80 artists from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the UK, and the US.
PJ Sabbagha, Artistic and Managing Director of FATC, explains why the forward-thinking festival was a resounding success: “With an online festival, you are not bound by space. People can participate in the festival and enjoy it from anywhere in the world.”
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Tuma Kerri Services by Kerita Tawana Choga
Another passionate Zimbabwean, Kerita Tawana Choga, launched the errand-running service, Tuma Kerri, in November 2020. Today, it serves hundreds of customers — mostly from the diaspora — who want to deliver goods to family and friends in Zimbabwe or get other chores done. Kerita has employed five people to service clients in cities around Zimbabwe.
“I realised there’s a huge number of Zimbabweans in the diaspora who struggle to get things done back home when they remit funds. Facebook and WhatsApp keep me connected to this community,” explains Kerita.
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WhatsApp Tutor by Maxwell Chimedza
Pandemic-related restrictions have also affected the education sector, and teachers needed to adapt. Tutor and entrepreneur Maxwell Chimedza looked to Facebook and WhatsApp as a way to educate students. When schools closed in Zimbabwe, this increased the demand for his WhatsApp classrooms. In 2021, Maxwell captured attention locally after his class of 64 WhatsApp students obtained 41 A-grade marks.
“WhatsApp schools mean no expensive uniforms or desks. I decided to help students in my community for free, just out of passion, because you cannot teach without passion,” says Maxwell.
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Wood Kitchen by Lulu Wood
Zambian content creator and media personality Lulu Wood has an inspiring story to share. She started a food blog called the Wood Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram. Her audience exploded during lockdown, with more than 112,000 people following her on Instagram and 215,000 on Facebook.
The passionate cook highlights the importance of social media for her business. “During a time of lockdown and social distancing, social platforms helped me continue my outreach work and share my food ideas with the world,” comments Lulu.
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