Category Archives: Google Africa Blog

Google Africa Blog

Celebrating South Africa’s heritage through its diverse art

Editor's note: Our guest piece is by Mathabo Kunene, Executive Trustee of the Mazisi Kunene Foundation. She writes about the "I Am Because You Are: A Celebration of South African Creativity" initiative, done in partnership with Google Arts & Culture to highlight South Africa’s rich heritage through art seeped in meaning and cultural value.

In the early 90s I met Paul Mikula for the first time. I was taken in by his deep respect and love for traditional African art which he described as a true embodiment of Ubuntu. This African concept can be roughly translated as ‘I Am Because You Are’ and it epitomizes deep respect and understanding of our fellow human beings. On 24 September, we officially celebrate Heritage Day in South Africa, a time when we honor each other’s cultures and salute our diverse traditions and beliefs in a nation which belongs to all its people.

It is a great honor for me to unveil I Am Because You Are: A Celebration of South African Creativity, an online hub on Google Arts & Culture which showcases South Africa’s rich heritage through art seeped in meaning and cultural value. The hub is home to the largest digitisation effort from Google Arts & Culture in South Africa to-date. A key component of the project is the large-scale digitisation of Phansi Museum’s vast archive which is now available online for the first time. Over 5000 artworks and cultural artifacts have been photographed in high resolution, allowing visitors to zoom into the intricate beadwork, meticulous carving and detailed weaving used in traditional southern African art. Viewers can also dive into stories from some of the country’s most prominent museums including Johannesburg Art Gallery and Origins Centre. Read on to learn more about the journeys available through this remarkable project.

1. Stories of Ubuntu

Discover the meaning of Ubuntu and its influence in the Phansi Museum and listen to an audio interview with Paul Mikula who describes how the concept inspires him. Take in a 360 virtual tour of each of Phansi Museum’s themed galleries or learn about South African culture through five traditional art works.

2. Celebrate South African Women

In a series of curated exhibits, University of Pretoria shines light on a set  of works which honor cultural attire and practices of South African women. The works were made in  the ‘80s  by illustrator Barbara Eleanor Harcourt Tyrrell who captured her subjects with great sensitivity and respect for their lived experience.  Tyrrell created the paintings for her book African Heritage and while the book may be difficult to find, the works are now available as part of the beautifully curated online project. Learn about women from Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal.

3. Traditional Healing

Learn about indigenous healing practices in southern Africa through stories which introduce medicinal and healing rituals belonging to different South African cultures.Throwing Bones: Divination in Southern Africa takes viewers through the complex system of bone throwing performed by Sangomas, so that the ritual way in which objects are selected and the significance of how they fall is brought to light. The exhibit Magic, Metamorphosis and Medicine allows viewers to enter into San belief systems and to learn about Therianthropes and the beauty of San rock art.

4. Museums in 360
Using Google technology, Google Arts & Culture has worked with South African institutions to capture their spaces in 360 allowing visitors to the platform to tour Johannesburg Art Gallery’s vast and beautifully installed exhibits, enter into San Rock art at the Origins Centre and discover the life of artist Helen Martin at the Owl House.

5. Contemporary Art
In addition to the beautiful traditional art that is now available on the platform, this project also profiles contemporary South African artists who explore identity and ideas of the self through their works. In Journeys Into Textile and Identity five South African artists who work with textiles are profiled and the diverse rand of media they work in as well as their unique approach to fabric and fashion is explored. Artist Lohla Amira also claims space on the platform where her installation from 2020’s Sydney Biennale is shown, In the work spaces for rejuvenation and memory are created through beaded curtains placed above a ceremonial healing bed of salt while sounds of singing specifically made for healing and transforming the body into a space of wellness, ancestral connection and self care.

Posted by Mathabo Kunene, Executive Trustee at Mazisi Kunene Foundation

Made on YouTube: supporting the next wave of creative entrepreneurs

From its earliest days, YouTube opened the door for millions of people to share their voice, find a community, reach a global audience, and build a business. But we knew that was just the beginning. Launching the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) in 2007 meant that creators could, for the first time, share in the revenue and earn money from their content. This unique business model means we only succeed when our creators do. And creators are succeeding—these creator entrepreneurs are building successful businesses of their own with employees and full-fledged operations. Over the past three years, we’ve paid creators, artists and media companies over $50B1.

Today, we introduce the next chapter in rewarding creativity on our platform, no matter what that looks like. We’re announcing more ways for creators to become partners, new ways to make money with Shorts, and a reimagining of how the music industry and creators work together.

More pathways for creators to make money

Back when YPP began, YouTube had one creative format—the standard horizontal video—and one main source of revenue: ads. Fast forward to today, creators are continually testing the boundaries of expression, from 15-second vertical Shorts, to 15-minute videos, to 15-hour live streams. And they’re building their businesses based on diversified revenue streams, from Fan Funding to brand sponsorships.

YouTube now offers 10 ways for our over 2M partners to make money. But we're not done. Today, we're expanding our partner program, meaning more creators and artists will have the opportunity to make money on YouTube across different creative formats.

Starting in early 2023, Shorts-focused creators can apply to YPP by meeting a threshold of 1,000 subscribers and 10M Shorts views over 90 days. These new partners will enjoy all the benefits our program offers, including the various ways to make money like ads on long-form and Fan Funding.

We also want to support creators who are even earlier in their YouTube journey, from gamers showing off their speed runs to trendsetting DIY makeup tutorials. A new level of YPP with lower requirements will offer earlier access to Fan Funding features like Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers and Channel Memberships. To reward creators across a range of formats, we’ll have paths for long-form, Shorts and Live creators to join this new tier in 2023. Stay tuned for more details.

To be clear, nothing will change with our existing criteria—creators can still apply to YPP when they reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. But these changes reflect the diversity of our growing creator community. Creators can choose the one option that best fits their channel while we maintain the same level of brand safety for advertisers. You can learn more here.

New ways to earn for Shorts creators

The popularity of short-form video has exploded on YouTube, with over 30B daily views and 1.5B monthly logged-in users, bringing an ascendant creativity across every topic, vertical, and region of the world. To start rewarding this new creative class, we launched a temporary Shorts Fund. Now, we're expanding our unique business model to this new format: revenue sharing is coming to Shorts!

Here’s how it'll work:
  • Beginning in early 2023, current and future YPP creators will be eligible for revenue sharing on Shorts.
  • In Shorts, ads run between videos in the Shorts Feed. So, every month, revenue from these ads will be added together and used to reward Shorts creators and help cover costs of music licensing.
  • From the overall amount allocated to creators, they will keep 45% of the revenue, distributed based on their share of total Shorts views. The revenue share remains the same, no matter if they use music or not.

This brand new approach allows us to reward all YPP creators who make up the Shorts experience, not just to those with videos running next to ads. In addition, since Music fuels some of our most vibrant and memorable Shorts, it simplifies the complexities of music licensing, so that creators don’t have to worry about whether or not they use music in their Short.

We expect the majority of our Shorts Fund recipients to earn more money under this new model, which was built for long term sustainability. Instead of a fixed fund, we're doubling down on the revenue sharing model that has supercharged the creator economy and enabled creators to benefit from the platform's success. Revenue sharing on Shorts ads is yet another way for creators to make money—it adds to our full suite of products, which enabled us to pay creators, artists and media companies over $50B over the past three years.

We’re also launching Super Thanks for Shorts in beta to thousands of creators, with a complete rollout expected next year. Viewers can show their appreciation for their favorite Shorts, and creators can interact with their fans through purchased, highlighted Super Thanks comments. And we’re bringing together brands and Shorts creators as part of YouTube BrandConnect.

Evolving the soundtrack of YouTube

Music is essential to Shorts and across YouTube—over the years, we’ve seen how creators can give classics new life, or bring a local hit to the global stage. But the complexities of music licensing has meant that most long-form videos that feature music (yes, even that one workout video you didn’t finish) don’t result in the creator getting paid. So, in recognizing an opportunity to build a bridge between the music industry and creators on our platform, we’re redefining how music can be featured in creator videos.

We’re introducing Creator Music, a new destination in YouTube Studio that gives YouTube creators easy access to an ever-growing catalog of music for use in their long-form videos. Creators can now buy affordable, high-quality music licenses that offer them full monetizing potential—they will keep the same revenue share they’d usually make on videos without any music.

And for creators who don’t want to buy a license up front, they’ll be able to use songs and share revenue with the track’s artist and associated rights holders. Creator Music, currently in beta in the US and expanding to more countries in 2023, will offer a streamlined process for creators—they’ll be able to instantly see the terms for their song selection.

We believe Creator Music will mean more amazing creator-artist collabs, more new tunes in viewers' playlists, and more ways for artists to break through—all while continuing to put money in creators' pockets.

It’s been incredible to witness entirely new industries built by creators on our platform. Our model since 2007 has been to put the creator at the heart of our economic engine and our shared success. We can’t wait to see what gets Made on YouTube over the next 15 years.

By Amjad Hanif, Vice President of Creator Products, YouTube


Made on YouTube : soutenir la prochaine génération d'entrepreneurs-créateurs

Depuis sa création, YouTube permet à des millions d'internautes de faire entendre leur voix, de s'intégrer à une communauté, de toucher une audience internationale et de développer leur marque et entreprise. Mais ce n'est pas tout. Grâce au lancement du Programme Partenaire YouTube en 2007, les créateurs peuvent toucher une part des revenus générés par leurs contenus. Ce modèle économique unique lie notre succès au leur. Et le succès est bien au rendez-vous, comme le montrent les entreprises florissantes de ces entrepreneurs-créateurs, qui emploient des équipes entières et gèrent des activités étendues. Au cours des trois dernières années, nous avons ainsi versé plus de 50 milliards de dollars à des créateurs, des artistes et des entreprises multimédias.

Aujourd'hui, nous ouvrons un nouveau chapitre de notre histoire pour récompenser ceux qui font preuve de créativité sur notre plate-forme, peu importe la forme. En effet, nous allons proposer aux créateurs d'autres moyens de devenir des partenaires et de générer des revenus grâce aux Shorts, en plus de repenser la façon dont l'industrie de la musique et les créateurs collaborent.

De nouvelles sources de revenus pour les créateurs

Lorsque le Programme Partenaire YouTube a été créé, il existait un seul format de création sur la plate-forme (la vidéo horizontale standard) et une seule source principale de revenus (les annonces). Aujourd'hui, les créateurs ne cessent de repousser les limites de l'expression artistique dans des Shorts verticaux de 15 secondes, des vidéos de 15 minutes ou des diffusions en direct de 15 heures. De plus, ils développent leur activité en s'appuyant sur diverses sources de revenus allant du financement par les fans aux partenariats avec des marques.

YouTube propose actuellement 10 façons de gagner de l'argent à ses plus de deux millions de partenaires. Et pour continuer sur notre lancée, nous allons élargir l'accès au Programme Partenaire afin de permettre à davantage de créateurs et d'artistes de générer des revenus sur YouTube grâce à différents formats de création.

Début 2023, les créateurs publiant principalement des Shorts pourront demander à rejoindre le Programme Partenaire YouTube lorsqu'ils compteront 1 000 abonnés et enregistreront 10 millions de vues de Shorts sur 90 jours. Les nouveaux partenaires profiteront de tous les avantages offerts par le programme, y compris des différentes sources de revenus telles que les annonces sur les contenus longs et le financement par les fans.

Nous souhaitons également soutenir les créateurs plus tôt dans leur parcours sur YouTube, qu'ils proposent des vidéos de speedruns ou des tutoriels de maquillage tendance. Pour cela, nous allons ajouter un niveau au Programme Partenaire YouTube dont les critères d'éligibilité seront plus souples. Les créateurs pourront ainsi bénéficier d'un accès anticipé aux fonctionnalités de financement par les fans, telles que les Super Thanks, les Super clavardage, les Super Stickers et les Abonnements à la chaîne. Afin de récompenser les créateurs quel que soit le type de format qu'ils produisent (vidéos longues, Shorts ou diffusions en direct), nous allons fixer des seuils spécifiques qui leur permettront de rejoindre ce niveau en 2023. Nous vous communiquerons prochainement plus d'informations à ce sujet.

Notez que nos critères existants ne seront pas modifiés. Il est toujours possible de demander à rejoindre le Programme Partenaire YouTube après avoir atteint 1 000 abonnés et 4 000 heures de visionnage. Les changements apportés permettent seulement de refléter la diversité de notre communauté qui s'agrandit de jour en jour. Les créateurs peuvent choisir l'option de qualification qui convient le mieux à leur chaîne, tandis que nous assurons le même niveau de protection des marques pour les annonceurs. Pour en savoir plus, cliquez ici.

De nouvelles façons de générer des revenus grâce aux Shorts

La popularité des courtes vidéos a explosé sur YouTube. Avec 30 milliards de vues par jour et 1,5 milliard d'utilisateurs connectés par mois, ce format favorise la créativité partout dans le monde, et ce quel que soit le sujet ou le secteur concerné. Pour commencer à récompenser les créateurs de ce nouveau type de contenu, nous avons créé un fonds Shorts temporaire qui roule depuis un certain temps. Mais nous allons bientôt appliquer notre nouveau modèle économique de partage des revenus à YouTube Shorts.

Voici quelques informations à ce sujet :
  • À partir de début 2023, les créateurs participant au Programme Partenaire YouTube (actuels et futurs) deviendront éligibles au partage des revenus sur les Shorts.
  • Sur YouTube Shorts, les annonces sont diffusées entre les vidéos dans le flux Shorts. Chaque mois, les revenus issus de ces annonces seront additionnés et utilisés pour récompenser les créateurs Shorts. Ils leur permettront également de couvrir les coûts liés aux licences musicales.
  • Les créateurs conserveront 45 % de la part de ces revenus attribuée aux créateurs, distribués en fonction de leur pourcentage du total des vues de Shorts. Leur part des revenus restera la même, qu'ils utilisent ou non de la musique.

Cette toute nouvelle approche nous permet de récompenser tous les créateurs du Programme Partenaire YouTube qui participent à l'expérience Shorts, et pas seulement ceux dont les vidéos sont ponctuées d'annonces. De plus, puisque certains des Shorts les plus marquants et les plus dynamiques incluent de la musique, nous allons simplifier l'attribution des licences pour que les créateurs n'aient pas à se demander s'ils peuvent utiliser ou non des titres.

Nous estimons que la majorité des bénéficiaires du fonds Shorts généreront davantage de revenus grâce à cette nouvelle stratégie élaborée pour le long terme. Plutôt que de proposer un fonds fixe, nous misons sur le modèle de partage des revenus qui a boosté l'économie des créateurs et permis à ceux-ci de profiter du succès de la plate-forme. Le partage des revenus générés par les annonces entre les Shorts est un moyen supplémentaire de gagner de l'argent. Il s'ajoute à notre suite complète de produits, qui nous a permis de verser plus de 50 milliards de dollars à des créateurs, des artistes et des entreprises multimédias au cours des trois dernières années.

Nous allons également déployer les Super Thanks en version bêta auprès de milliers de créateurs Shorts. Cette fonctionnalité sera entièrement disponible l'année prochaine. Les spectateurs pourront l'utiliser pour montrer qu'ils apprécient un Short, tandis que les créateurs pourront interagir avec leurs fans via les commentaires Super Thanks achetés, qui seront mis en surbrillance. Enfin, nous allons rapprocher les marques et les créateurs Shorts grâce à YouTube BrandConnect.

Faire évoluer la bande-sonore de YouTube

La musique est indispensable aux Shorts et à YouTube. Au fil du temps, nous avons vu des créateurs redonner vie à des classiques ou propulser un tube national au sommet des classements internationaux. Cependant, en raison de la complexité de l'attribution des licences musicales, la plupart des contenus longs qui incluent de la musique (y compris cette vidéo d'entraînement que vous n'avez jamais terminée) ne génèrent pas de revenus pour les créateurs. Pour remédier à cela, et afin bâtir un pont entre l'industrie de la musique et les créateurs de notre plate-forme, nous allons repenser la façon dont la musique peut être incluse dans les contenus.

C'est dans cette optique que nous allons lancer Creator Music. Cette nouvelle page YouTube Studio permettra aux créateurs YouTube d'accéder facilement à un catalogue toujours plus large de titres sous licence, qu'ils peuvent utiliser dans leurs longues vidéos. De plus, il sera désormais possible d'acheter à un prix raisonnable des licences permettant d'utiliser des titres de haute qualité dans des contenus sans que cela affecte leur potentiel de monétisation. Ainsi, les créateurs toucheront la même part de revenus que celle qui s'applique aux vidéos sans musique.

Les créateurs qui ne souhaitent pas acheter de licences immédiatement auront la possibilité d'inclure des chansons dans leurs contenus, et de partager les revenus générés par ceux-ci avec l'artiste et les titulaires des droits d'auteur associés. Creator Music, actuellement disponible aux États-Unis en version bêta avant son déploiement dans d'autres pays en 2023, offrira de son côté une procédure simplifiée pour les créateurs : ceux-ci pourront consulter instantanément les conditions d'utilisation des titres qu'ils auront sélectionnés.

Nous sommes convaincus que Creator Music nous permettra de multiplier les collaborations intéressantes entre créateurs et artistes, les nouveaux titres populaires ajoutés dans les playlists de spectateurs ainsi que les opportunités pour les artistes de se faire un nom, tout en continuant à verser de l'argent aux créateurs.

C'est grâce à nos créateurs que nous avons pu assister à l'émergence de tout nouveaux marchés sur notre plate-forme. Depuis 2007, notre approche consiste à les placer au cœur de notre modèle économique et de notre succès partagé. Nous avons hâte de découvrir ce qui verra le jour sur YouTube dans les 15 prochaines années.

Amjad Hanif, vice-président des produits destinés aux créateurs, YouTube

Meet Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa 2022 Startups

Africa is home to 17% of the world's population, yet fewer than 4% of clinical trials are conducted on the continent.. Melissa Bime, CEO of Cameroonian startup Infiuss Health, saw this as an opportunity to leverage technology to connect researchers with volunteers for clinical trials and research across Africa. Infiuss Health, which received the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa in 2021, is one of a handful of African healthtech firms attempting to make healthcare more accessible and inclusive while simultaneously supporting the region's developing digital economy.

Over $4 billion was invested in African companies in 2021, a 2.5-fold increase over 2020, and the upward trend of hundreds of millions in funding bodes well for 2022. More than $3 billion has been raised by African companies in 2022 despite the economic slump, proving that investors have faith in the vital work being done by African startups and that far more might be accomplished with the right support.

Since introducing the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa in 2021, we've supported 50 startups from nine African countries that have gone on to raise over $87 million and created 518 jobs.

We are now pleased to announce that 60 additional startups have been selected as beneficiaries of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa 2022! This cohort represents 10 African countries , with Botswana joining the program for the first time. Selected startups will receive $100,000 in non-dilutive cash awards, paired with up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credits per startup. The startups will also receive ongoing hands-on business and technical mentorship from Google’s network of mentors and facilitators, learning the best practices on a range of topics from artificial intelligence, organizational culture, people management, to growth strategies and more.

Meet this year’s recipients of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa:
  • Agrikool (South Africa): Agrikool is an agritech platform that connects farming producers and buyers to a fair and reliable market.
  • Ajua (Kenya): Ajua is an end to end operating system for SMEs to build a credible online presence, get feedback on their business and manage the relationship with their customers
  • Awabah (Nigeria): Awabah is a digital pensions platform for Africa's workforce
  • BAG Innovation (Rwanda): BAG Innovation is a virtual and gamified platform that offers real-time access to experiential learning for University students and recent graduates
  • Bailport (Rwanda): Baliport is a cross-border, multi-currency payment platform focused on enabling Intra-Africa & Africa Outbound money transfer through Blockchain
  • Bee (Cameroon): Bee finances motorcycles to drivers while also providing training and access to jobs.
  • Bookings Africa (Nigeria): Bookings Africa enables Africa's gig workforce to digitize and monetize their skill by connecting clients efficiently and transparently to skilled talent across Africa.
  • Brastorne (Botswana): Brastorne connects the unconnected in Africa, enabling rural villagers to have access to the digital world without smartphones or data.
  • Built (Ghana): Built enables access to business and financial tools for Sub-Saharan African small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
  • BuuPass (Kenya): BuuPass is a travel startup - building digital rails for Africa’s intercity transport industry and supporting bus, train & flight transportation
  • Cauri Money (Senegal): Cauri Money is a cashless remittance platform helping African migrants move money from around the world into mobile wallets in Africa.
  • Clafiya (Nigeria): Clafiya connects individuals, families, and businesses to health practitioners - enabling access to convenient, quality, and affordable, on-demand primary care from their mobile phones
  • ClinicPesa (Uganda): ClinicPesa provides an easy-to-use platform where low-income users can set aside funds as low as $0.30 daily dedicated towards healthcare and get access to healthcare loans
  • COVA (Cameroon): COVA are a digital insurance platform that enables partner businesses to easily and seamlessly deliver insurance products to their users
  • CreditAIs (South Africa): CreditAIs provide credit scoring tools for micro-businesses and individuals that do not fit the existing traditional credit scoring models
  • DohYangu (Kenya): DohYangu enables end consumers in Africa to shop FMCG products & get cashback rewards at various retail stores, saving up to 25%
  • Easy Matatu (Uganda): Easy Matatu provides a mobile platform that allows commuters to book and pay for scheduled rides on vetted and inspected minibuses
  • Eden Life (Nigeria): Eden Life provides an operating system for receiving and rendering essential services in Africa - focused on offering food, cleaning, laundry, and beauty services to our customers.
  • Estate Intel (Nigeria): Estate Intel provides reliable data to businesses that are investing or operating in the African real estate space.
  • Eversend (Uganda): Eversend is a neobank, providing critical financial products in Sub-Saharan Africa - including cross-border financial services.
  • Exuus (Rwanda): Exuus empowers informal saving groups with a digital ledger, digital wallet, decentralized social credit score, and instant micro-loans to both groups and individuals.
  • Flex Finance (Nigeria): Flex Finance helps businesses in Africa manage approval workflow, access credit, issue corporate cards to employees and make disbursements all from one platform.
  • FlexPay (Kenya): FlexPay are a merchant-embedded digital savings platform that rewards customers for saving up for purchases - a save now buy later (SNBL) solution at checkout
  • Gamr (Nigeria): Gamr is an eSports tournament aggregation platform, helping African gamers discover tournaments they can play and get rewarded.
  • Garri Logistics (Ethiopia): Garri Logistics matches shippers looking to move cargo with vehicle owners and drivers, while finding optimal route pairings to reduce empty miles.
  • Haul 247 (Nigeria): Haul247 is a logistics platform that connects manufacturing companies and farmers with trucks and warehouses
  • Healthlane (Cameroon): Healthlane provides advanced comprehensive health screening and personalized plans, biometric monitoring, genetic analysis, in-person and virtual visits with top-rated doctors
  • Healthtracka (Nigeria): Healthtracka is a platform that allows users access on-demand healthcare services in the comfort of their homes.
  • HerVest (Nigeria): HerVest offers a highly secured, women-focused financial platform that enables women to participate in key financial services, with a focus on female farmers
  • Kapsule (Rwanda): Kapsule is a data as a service company that helps healthcare providers, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies to make better decisions.
  • Keep IT Cool (Kenya): Keep IT Cool is a fast-growing social enterprise that leverages technology to strengthen the African aquaculture and poultry Value Chain through cold chain and storage.
  • KUDIGO (Ghana): KUDIGO offers an omni-channel digital commerce platform to empower micro and small businesses in Africa
  • Kyshi (Nigeria): Kyshi provides multi-currency accounts and remittance services to and from Africa.
  • Leja (Kenya): Leja is an Android/USSD application enabling African micro-entrepreneurs to digitize all their business transactions and manage all their finance in one place.
  • LifeBank (Nigeria): LifeBank leverages technology to provide value in multiple segments (production, marketplace and distribution) of the healthcare supply chain such as blood, oxygen and medical supplies.
  • Mapha (South Africa): Mapha provides delivery as a service to businesses in peri-urban & township areas.
  • Norebase (Nigeria): Norebase provides a single digital platform and technology tools for entrepreneurs and businesses to start, scale, and operate in any African country and the United States.
  • OneHealth (Nigeria): OneHealth is an online pharmacy & healthcare platform that provides access to medicines, healthcare information, and solutions (Laboratory services & Doctors) to the last mile patient.
  • PesaChoice (Rwanda): PesaChoice bridges the gap in liquidity for low-middle income earners across the continent and drives access to financial services.
  • Pindo (Rwanda): Pindo is a cloud communication platform for businesses, optimized for developers.
  • Pivo (Nigeria): Pivo is a credit focused digital bank for trade, supporting businesses across Africa
  • QShop (Nigeria): QShop is an easy to use DIY e-commerce platform designed to help small and medium-sized businesses scale and sell better online.
  • Rekisa (South Africa): Rekisa helps businesses create their eCommerce websites and we also help them with various digital marketing activities
  • Scrapays (Nigeria): Scrapays is creating an operating system infrastructure for the recycling value chain in developing nations.
  • Shiip (Nigeria): Shiip leverages web, mobile and API technology to connect individuals & businesses to delivery services in and out of Africa
  • Solutech (Kenya): Solutech helps field sales teams sell more and efficiently by leveraging powerful insights while providing FMCG companies with real-time data for day-to-day and strategic decision-making.
  • Spleet (Nigeria): Spleet leverages a ‘Rent Now, Pay Late’ model to drive our mission to ensure that every African can afford a space to live in.
  • Stears (Nigeria): Stears is a financial intelligence company providing subscription-based content & data to global professionals. Our mission is to build the world's most trusted provider of African data.
  • Synnefa (Kenya): Synnefa is building Africa's first mini-farm ERP connected to IoT sensors that provide soil data which we combine with farmer activity data to create a farmer experience score that we pass on to financial partners to use on their credit score
  • Technovera (South Africa): Technovera has developed Pelebox- a Smart Locker Dispensing System that enables patients to collect their repeat chronic medication in under 30 seconds
  • TERAWORK (Nigeria): TERAWORK is an online freelance marketplace focused on matching freelancers to service buyers.
  • TIBU Health (Kenya): TIBU Health is an omnichannel HealthTech company connecting patients to healthcare services and professionals at a time and location of their choosing.
  • Topset Education (Nigeria): Topset Education is an edtech platform that makes quality education accessible to Africans everywhere
  • TopUp Mama (Kenya): TopUp Mama enables restaurants in Africa to purchase food supplies, access financial services and manage their business.
  • Wellahealth (Nigeria): Wellahealth provides technology and financial tools to healthcare providers and patients to enable affordability and accessibility of healthcare in emerging markets.
  • Xente (Uganda): Xente is a digital financial platform with in-built spend management to support businesses across Africa
  • Zanifu (Kenya): Zanifu enable SMEs purchase inventory and pay later
  • ZayRide (Ethiopia): ZayRide is a customer centric on-demand taxi service offering fast, convenient service throughout local areas in Ethiopia
  • Zuberi (Ghana): Zuberi is a fintech platform based out of Accra, built to provide financial products and services to salaried workers in a way they have never experienced beforeZuri Health (Kenya): Zuri Health provides affordable and accessible healthcare services to patients across Sub-Saharan Africa via mobile app, website, Whatsapp chatbot and SMS service.

Posted by Folarin Aiyegbusi, Head of Startup Ecosystem, Africa


Giving African languages more Latin font choices

En Français

Questrial font includes African Latin and Vietnamese, more than 1346 glyphs

African languages are underrepresented in digital communications because there are few open source Pan-African fonts that contain all of the letters and diacritics (or accent) marks that are essential for accurate spelling of African languages.

Proper spelling is vital for communication and language survival, not simply for school tests and competitions. Educational institutions and people require fonts that indicate accurate spelling for each language so pupils may write properly. If students see the same word written with various punctuation marks, they may never learn how to spell. Without consistent spelling, students might mistake similar-looking words with distinct meanings.

These are some examples of words in African languages with similar spellings and different meanings:
  • fɔ (to say) and fo (to greet) in Bambara
  • motó (head) and mɔ́tɔ (fire) in Lingala
  • ọ̀tá (enemy) and ota (bullet) in Yoruba

However, spelling is just part of the problem. With few fonts with Pan-African language support, African publishers used non-Unicode fonts or their own custom encodings in printed materials such as textbooks and newspapers. When publishing moved online, users who didn't have a certain font encoding installed on their computer or device, saw gibberish or boxes instead of the correct letters when reading online publications.

Birth of a font for African languages
To bring a new font choice to digital Africa, Google Fonts commissioned Denis Moyogo Jacquerye (as a language consultant) and Laura Meseguer (as a type designer) to expand the Questrial font to include all letterforms in African languages using the Latin writing system. Questrial is a modern style font for body text and headers on a website and is fitted with past characteristics of great typefaces, making it very readable in any context.

Born in Lubumbashi, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC), to a Congolese mother and a Belgian father, Jacquerye became an expert in African language typefaces after encountering technical restrictions. When he only found a few fonts to type Lingala words on a computer, Jacquerye made a digital keyboard for African languages using the Latin writing system for the DejaVu font project.
How to expand a font to make it Pan-African

Since the original Questrial typeface didn’t have letterforms for African languages, Messeguer had to design new ones. She also changed the overall letter spacing. Jacquerye guided Messeguer on how to change her new letterform designs.

These are some examples of the “before” and “after” letterforms showing Meseguer’s original designs and the modified ones.

1. J Crossed-tail ʝ
This letter represents a palatal implosive consonant, represented by the ʄ IPA symbol.
Before and after uppercase and lowercase J Crossed-tail letterforms on yellow background

The before image shows the wide uppercase and lowercase letters with oval-like loops. The after image shows more narrow uppercase and lowercase letters with rounder loops

2. Ɲ (“n” sound) and Ŋ (“eng” sound)
The “eng” sound is similar to the “ng” in the English words "sing" or "singer".
4 letters in black on a light yellow background and 4 text labels explaining each letter

Meseguer’s initial designs for the upper and lower case Ɲ, Ŋ,  ɲ, and ƞ letterforms 

4 letters in black on a light yellow background and 4 text labels explaining each letter

After images for the uppercase and lowercase Ɲ, Ŋ,  ɲ, and ƞ letterforms

#1 Ɲ, uppercase n with left hook and large-n form
#2 Ŋ, uppercase, with the African large-n form
#3 ɲ, lowercase of Ɲ, with left hook
#4 ƞ, lowercase of Ŋ with descender

The availability of Questrial and other Pan-African Latin fonts on computers and devices makes content more accessible for people who may struggle with small sized text on printed materials. Low-vision readers can read text on a device or computer and zoom in and enjoy content without straining their eyes and getting headaches.

The task of bringing more African languages online is just beginning. Google Fonts is excited at how much is being accomplished through Questrial. The font is available on Google Fonts. To use Questrial in Google Docs and Google Slides, select “More” in the Fonts menu and type “Questrial” in the search bar. The font supports African Latin and has full coverage of Vietnamese, in addition to all European languages.

Posted by Susanna Zaraysky, Google Fonts Content Strategist

Google’s Noto font has 16 scripts that serve 266 languages spoken in Africa. Some of these languages didn't originate in Africa, such as Gujarati.


Offrir plus de choix de polices latines pour les langues africaines avec Questrial, disponible en alphabet latin panafricain 

La police Questrial est disponible en alphabet latin africain et vietnamien, soit près de 1350 nouveaux glyphes

Les langues africaines sont sous-représentées dans les communications numériques, car peu de policespanafricaines Open Source contiennent toutes les lettres et signes diacritiques (accents) essentiels pour pouvoir écrire sans faute d'orthographe dans ces langues.

Écrire sans fautes ne sert pas qu'à briller lors des concours d'orthographe et des dictées, mais est essentiel pour communiquer dans une langue et la préserver. Tout comme les individus, les établissements d'enseignement ont besoin de polices qui représentent l'orthographe de chaque langue afin que les élèves puissent écrire correctement. Un même mot peut être écrit avec différents signes de ponctuation et les élèves risquent de ne jamais maîtriser son orthographe. Par ailleurs, en l'absence d'orthographe, ils pourraient confondre des mots qui se ressemblent, mais qui ont des sens différents.

Voici quelques exemples de mots africains ayant des sens différents, mais dont les caractères se ressemblent :
  • fɔ (dire) et fo (accueillir) en bambara
  • motó (tête) et mɔ́tɔ (feu) en lingala
  • ọ̀tá (ennemi) et ota (balle) en yoruba

L'orthographe ne représente toutefois qu'une partie du problème. Compte tenu du manque de polices compatibles avec les langues panafricaines, les éditeurs africains ont eu recours à des polices incompatibles avec l'Unicodeou à des encodages personnalisésdans les ouvrages imprimés, tels que les manuels scolaires et les journaux. Lors du passage à l'édition numérique, les publications en ligne affichaient du contenu vide de sens ou des cases au lieu des bons caractères, sauf si les lecteurs avaient installé au préalable, sur leurs ordinateurs ou autres appareils numériques, une police proprement encodée et supportant les caractères nécessaires au rendu du texte.
Concevoir une police pour les langues africaines

Pour mener à bien le projet d'une nouvelle police répondant aux besoins de l'Afrique connectée, Google Fonts a demandé à Denis Moyogo Jacquerye(consultant linguistique) et Laura Meseguer (dessinatrice de caractères) d'adapter la police Questrialpour qu'elle inclue l'ensemble des lettres des langues africaines utilisant l'alphabet latin. Questrial est une police de style moderne conçue pour le corps de texte et les en-têtes de sites Web. Elle offre des caractéristiques semblables aux plus grandes polices de caractères, afin d'être lisible dans n'importe quel contexte.

Né à Lubumbashi au Zaïre (actuelle la République démocratique du Congo ou RDC) d'une mère congolaise et d'un père belge, Denis Moyogo Jacquerye se spécialise dans les polices de caractères pour les langues africaines après avoir fait face à des contraintes techniques en la matière. Lorsqu'il constate que seules quelques polices permettent de saisir des mots en lingala sur ordinateur, Denis Moyogo Jacquerye conçoit un clavier numérique pour les langues africaines basé sur l'alphabet latin du projet de police DejaVu.

Développer une police dans une optique panafricaine
La police Questrial d'origine ne comportait pas de lettres utilisées dans les langues africaines. Laura Meseguer a donc dû les créer de toutes pièces. En outre, elle a modifié l'espace entre les lettres. Les nouveaux glyphes ont aussi bénéficié des recommandations de correction de Moyogo Jacquerye.

Voici quelques exemples de caractères avant et après leur modification (ébauches de Laura Meseguer et versions modifiées) :

1. J à queue croisée ʝ

Cette lettre correspond à une consonne occlusive injective palatale, représentée par le symbole ʄ dans l'alphabet phonétique international (API).

Images de la majuscule  et de la minuscule ʝ avant modification (majuscule large, boucle de la minuscule ovale) et après modification (majuscule plus étroite, boucle de la minuscule plus arrondie)

2. Ɲ (son "n") and Ŋ (son "ng")

Ŋ se prononce comme "ng" dans l'interjection "bing" ou le mot "parking".

Quatre lettres noires sur fond jaune clair avec leur description respective
Créations d'origine de Laura Meseguer pour les lettres majuscules et minuscules Ɲ, Ŋ, ɲ et ƞ

Quatre lettres noires sur fond jaune clair avec leurs descriptions respectives
Images après modification des lettres Ɲ, Ŋ, ɲ et ƞ

Image nº1 : Ɲ (majuscule en forme de grand n avec crochet à gauche)
Image nº2 : Ŋ (majuscule en forme de grand n africain)
Image nº3 : ɲ (minuscule de Ɲ avec crochet à gauche)
Image nº4 : ƞ (minuscule de Ŋ avec jambage)

Grâce à Questrial et aux autres polices panafricaines disponibles en alphabet latin sur tout appareil numérique, le contenu devient plus accessible aux lecteurs qui auraient du mal à déchiffrer un texte imprimé en petit corps. Le numérique donne aussi aux lecteurs atteints de déficience visuelle la possibilité de zoomer sur le texte.

La mission visant à développer la présence de contenus numériques en langues africaines ne fait que commencer. Google Fonts est ravi des progrès réalisés grâce à Questrial. Cette police est disponible sur Google Fonts. Pour utiliser Questrial dans Google Docs et Google Slides, sélectionnez "Autres polices" dans le menu des polices, puis saisissez "Questrial" dans la barre de recherche. Outre les langues européennes, cette police inclut l'alphabet latin africain ainsi que l'intégralité des caractères vietnamiens.

Publié par Susanna Zaraysky, experte en stratégie de contenu, Google Fonts

La police Noto de Google inclut 16 alphabets utilisés dans 266 langues parlées en Afrique. Certaines de ces langues ne sont pas originaires de ce continent, comme le gujarati.

Supporting Natural Language Processing (NLP) in Africa

Language is what connects us to each other and the world around us. While Africa is home to a third of the world's languages, technology is not yet available for many of its languages. This is an important challenge to tackle because language is more than a vehicle for communication. It is also a marker of identity, belonging, and opportunity. This is why we want to make sure you can understand and be understood, in any language of your choosing. It's a significant technical challenge to make this dream a reality, but we’re committed to and working towards this goal.

One of the challenges everyone faces in this space is the scarcity of machine readable language data which can be used to build technology. For many languages, it is difficult to find or it simply does not exist. Diversity gaps in Natural Language Processing (NLP) education and academia also narrow representation among language technologists working on lesser-resourced languages. Democratizing access to underrepresented languages data and increasing NLP education helps drive NLP research and advance language technology.

As part of our continued commitment and investment in digital transformation in Africa, Google teams have been working on programs to advance language technologies that serve the region, such as: adding 24 new languages to Google Translate earlier at I/O (including Bambara, Ewe, Krio, Lingala, Luganda, Tsonga and Twi), researching how to build speech recognition in African languages, and supporting local researchers through initiatives like Lacuna Fund. Community initiatives launched in India expanded to Africa, resulting in open-sourced crowdsourced datasets for speech applications in Nigerian English and Yoruba, and new community initiatives and workshops like     Explore ML with Crowdsource are gaining momentum in multiple African countries. We also hosted our first community workshop in the field of NLP and African languages in our growing AI research center in Ghana, which is also looking into how to advance NLP for African languages.

One more recent example of our language initiatives in the continent comes from a partnership with Africans to invest in African languages and NLP technology: in collaboration with Zindi, a social enterprise and professional network for data science we organized a series of Natural Language Processing (NLP) hackathons in Africa. The series included an Africa Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) workshop and three hackathon challenges centered on model training for speech recognition, sentiment analysis, and speech data collection.

The interactive workshop aimed to increase awareness and skills for NLP in Africa, especially among researchers, students, and data scientists new to NLP. The workshop provided a beginner-friendly introduction to NLP and ASR, including a step by step guide on how to train a speech model for a new language. Participants also learned about the challenges and progress of work in the Africa NLP space and opportunities to get involved with data science and grow their careers.


In the Intro to Speech Recognition Africa Challenge, participants collected speech data for African languages and trained their own speech recognition models with it. This challenge generated new datasets in African languages, including the open-source datasets released by the challenge winners in Fongbe, Wolof, Swahili, Baule, Dendi, Chichewa and Khartoum Arabic, which enables further research, collaboration, and development of technology for these languages.

We partnered with Data Scientists Network (DSN) to organize the West Africa Speech Recognition Challenge, which according to Toyin Adekanmbi, the Executive Director of DSN, gave participants an “immersive experience to sharpen their skills as they learned to solve local problems”. Participants worked to train their own speech-recognition model for Hausa, spoken by an estimated 72 million people, using open source data from the Mozilla Common Voice platform.

In the Swahili Social Media Sentiment Analysis Challenge, held across Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, participants open sourced solutions of models that classified if the sentiment of a tweet was positive, negative, or neutral. These challenges allowed participants with similar interests to connect with each other in a supported environment and improve their machine learning and NLP skills.

Our focus to empower people to use technology in the language of their choice continues and, across many teams, we are on a mission to advance language technologies for African languages and increase NLP skills and education in the region, so that we can collectively build a world that is truly accessible for everyone, irrespective of the language they speak.

Posted by Connie Tao & Clara Rivera, Program Managers for Google AI


Announcing the Redefining Womanhood online exhibition on Google Arts & Culture

Editor's note:

Towela 'Kams' Tembo, a photographer and African Leadership Academy alumnus, contributed today's post. She writes about the Redefining Womanhood exhibition on Google Arts and Culture, which pays tribute to the 20,000 South African women whose efforts set the groundwork for today's young women's empowerment.


In South Africa, the month of August is dedicated to remembering the 20,000 women who marched in 1956 in opposition to the pass restrictions enacted by the Apartheid regime, which restricted the freedom of movement for black women. The march to Pretoria's Union Buildings was a movement unto itself. To this day, it remains a magnificent depiction of women who not only stood up to injustice, but also set a clear mission for the overall equal rights of all women in society's many political, economic, and social threads.

Women like Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, who led this march with determination that roots us, are the cornerstone upon which the empowerment of today's young women rests.

Though the Redefining Womanhood exhibition focuses on young African women, it is anchored on generations of African women who gave birth to this vision and, in fact, gave birth to us.

Since the launch of the live virtual exhibition in March, we have invited the audience to pause to reflect on the efforts of our 30 young African women artists who share this goal, but also to highlight the work that remains ahead of us.

Their artistic agency to embody, embrace, and emulate various aspects of womanhood is shown through unique, curated stories and over 200 artworks. As we celebrate the work of women - both young and old - on this special day, we would like to host you in our powerful online exploration of activist photographs, videos of moving interpretive dance pieces, and skilled musical performances created by the young women at the African Leadership Academy.

Yassmine Boulam, Lost, 2021

Yassmine Boualam takes us on a journey of self-discovery through her art, and the therapeutic aspect of painting which guided her journey of finding peace within herself. For fellow artist, Daniella Nanziri painting is used to communicate the body-image issues young women face today while simultaneously celebrating beauty once loathed. In both cases, the artists’ creativity as well as intentionality in women empowerment is evident in their self-reflection as the driving force behind the canvas.

Tracey Keza, Hijabs and Hoodies — 1, 2019

As a photographer myself, photography has always been an incredible tool in probing our place in the world and how we relate to each other. I was inspired by the stories and themes other ALA graduates courageously pinned in their submissions. For example, Rwandan-based photographer Tracey Keza, in her series Hijabs and Hoodies, uses portraiture to zoom into identity politics, culture and conservation, beautifully profiled in the story We Will Not Be Silenced . For me, sharing a photo series titled Colorism: Shades of Africa that brought to the surface the prevailing social pandemic of colourism and its effect on different girls (and boys) in Africa and beyond signified stories that I believe are of vital importance to our youth and society.

Makenna Muigai, Still from the film Experience, 2021

Makenna Muigai’s Experience film is a profound example of the cathartic effects of violin sounds - the highs and lows therein - that act as a metaphor for the peaks and valleys of womanhood itself. Taking their own spin on the power of music, Erika Kimani & Tanaka Chikati both use the ‘Mbira’, a Zimbabwean instrument traditionally played by men, as a gateway into the past which triggers an intense recollection of memories and explores the theory of reincarnation. By doing this, all three women create an agenda for their art - one that pays homage to their personal encounters with womanhood.

Get inspired by many more young creative women on our African Leadership Academy page now available on Google Arts & Culture and on the iOS and Android App.

Posted by Towela ‘Kams’ Tembo, African Leadership Academy graduate


Supporting Small Businesses and Youth-led Startups in Africa

Editor’s note: H.E Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals, contributed today's piece. He writes about a new relationship between the African Union Commission and Google aimed at supporting small enterprises and youth-led startups across the continent.


Last week, during the 13th African Union Private Sector Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, I had the pleasure of signing a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the African Union Commission with Google to commemorate our commitment to accelerate digital transformation across the 55 member nations. As the first agreement of its nature between the African Union Department of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals and a U.S. corporation, we hope that this new partnership will enable us to accomplish two goals: first, to empower small and medium-sized enterprises, and second, to establish policies that will promote business growth for private sector development in all of Africa.

AU Commissioner Albert Muchanga and Google Government Affairs & Public Policy Director for Sub-Saharan Africa Charles Murito signing an agreement of collaboration

A dynamic SMB and startup landscape drive the tech ecosystem in Africa and entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic growth. Across the continent, small and medium businesses (SMBs) can comprise roughly 80% of the workforce. In Nigeria and Kenya for example, SMBs contribute to 84% of all local jobs and in South Africa, SMBs contribute to 52% of the country's GDP. In 2021, startups raised over $4 billion and they employed over half of Africa’s software developers. Simply put, these startups and SMBs are the backbone of African economies. They are resolving some of Africa's most pressing challenges, including the inability of isolated communities to access healthcare, the lack of work prospects for women, and the ability to securely send and receive money. These entrepreneurs and startups have the potential to expand the African internet economy to $180 billion by opening up opportunities to reach new customers via e-commerce with better access to technology and digital training.

Last week, at the AU Private Sector Forum, government officials, civil society experts, and private sector representatives focused on establishing meaningful ways to support youth, given that Africa has the world’s youngest, fastest-growing, and most urbanized workforce. Africa will be home to one-third of the world's young (aged 15 to 35) by 2050. The future of the world’s workforce will clearly come from Africa, and we are pleased that our collaboration with Google is enabling us to better support them.

Youth entrepreneurs and women-led firms were given a master class on how to effectively present their creative business concepts in order to get investment. A startup pitch competition to uncover Africa's Next Unicorn (a company valued at $1 billion) was also conducted.

Photo of the youth and women-led SMB participants in Google’s Masterclass.

Moving beyond the Forum, the collaboration with Google will allow youth-led startups and small and medium enterprises across Africa to identify new markets, bring their businesses online, access financing opportunities, and pitch for success through programs such as the Hustle Academy and the Google for Startups Accelerator program.

In 2017, Google launched its Grow with Google initiative with a commitment to train 10 million young Africans and small businesses in digital skills. To date, Google has trained over 6 million people across 25 African countries, with over 60% of participants experiencing growth in their career and/or business as a result. Our hope is that this collaboration with the African Union will help to expand the reach of these programs to the 55 member states.

From a policy perspective, robust collaboration between the private and public sectors is critical to ensuring that African entrepreneurs thrive, not only in our home countries and regions, but in the global marketplace. This is why we are also working together with Google to develop policies, such as national startup and SMB legislation, to create a regulatory environment that will sustain economic growth by turning African countries into Digital Sprinters and advance Agenda 2063 aspirations to create the Africa we want.

H.E Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner, Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals


Innovation success in Middle East, Africa and Turkey

We announced the third GNI Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge in February, as part of our ongoing commitment to spur innovation in news and journalism throughout the globe, as well as the creation of new business models. This year, like in prior years, news innovators have stepped forward with several fascinating projects displaying innovative thinking.

WANANCHI Reporting’s new interactive platform will allow Kenya's unserved and underprivileged to become active participants in telling and/or re-telling their tales from diverse, but rich perspectives.

In an industry first initiative, Nigeria-based TheCable intends to create the country's first disability-inclusive news application, along with assistive technologies that will make it the go-to destination for those with vision impairments, hearing issues, and many other limb challenges.

South Africa-based Daily Maverick aims to solve the pervasive problem of audience engagement for news publishers by developing a suite of tools that will increase engagement rates with high-impact content.

These 3 projects are some of the 34 announced today as part of the 3rd Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

Picture shows a group of 5 people who make up the team at the Dubawa Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development who will automate radio fact-checking.

Success! The team at the (Dubawa Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development) who will automate radio fact-checking. 

The GNI Innovation Challenges, part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, have seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.

The 3rd Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge received 425 applications from 42 countries – a 27% increase in overall applications. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, 34 projects were selected from 17 countries to receive $3.2 million in funding.

This Innovation Challenge saw a significant increase in applications from news organizations undertaking fact checking activities: an increase of 118% when compared to previous Innovation Challenges in the region. Proposed projects which use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) also showed significant growth (92%), reflecting a trend across the news ecosystem to embrace cutting edge new technologies and data.

The call for applications listed five criteria: impact on the news ecosystem; innovation; diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility – and the chosen projects clearly demonstrated all five. Here’s a selection of the successful recipients (you can find the full list on our website):
  • Dubawa, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development from Nigeria, an online-only publisher, will introduce automated radio fact-checking.
  • Majarra from the UAE will apply AI and ML to use readers’ data to better help them navigate their website and be more inclusive to female subscribers.
  • Minority Africa from Uganda is designing and implementing a web distribution application that will make it easier for newsrooms publishing under a Creative Commons license to have more control of their work.
  • Quote This Woman+ from South Africa will build a tool to provide women+ (identified as women, people living with disabilities, LGBTQI+, rural and religious minorities)
  • sources to newsrooms and journalists to diversify sources in news coverage.
  • Dipnot from Turkey, a TV company, will create COM+: a multi-screen OTT platform for curated news in Turkey.
The successful recipients will be embarking on their projects later this summer and will share their learnings with the wider news ecosystem.

Posted by Ludovic Blecher, Head of Innovation, Google News Initiative


Meet The YouTube Music Foundry Class of 2022

Today, YouTube Music is glad to introduce the Foundry Class of 2022, with 30 new artists joining our global artist development program.

Since its beginnings – in 2015 as a workshop series and in 2017 as an incubator dedicated to independent music – it’s been Foundry’s mission to help artists get to “the next level,” with the resources to navigate a rapidly evolving music business. Over the years, we’ve seen how that progress takes no one path. To thrive, independent artists must constantly take on new challenges, shift course, and reinforce their sense of self-belief.

The journeys of independent artists may be winding, but they don’t have to be lonely. Turning an audience into a real community of fans is an enormous feat, requiring courage and allies as much as talent. Foundry artists receive seed funding invested into the development of their content and dedicated partner support from YouTube as they grow on their own terms.

“The advice I received as part of Foundry helped me build a super strong foundation on which to build the next 5-10 years of my visual output and career,” said UK pioneer Shygirl, after graduating from Foundry’s 2021 class. When artists have stability, culture everywhere wins. “Foundry helped corridos tumbados to be more known on a global level and helped me take the Mexican flag to the most important stages all over the world,” said 2020 alum Natanael Cano.

To date, Foundry’s annual artist development classes and ongoing release support campaigns have supported more than 250 independent artists, with alumni including Arlo Parks, beabadoobee, Dave, Dua Lipa, Clairo, ENNY, Eladio Carrion, girl in red, Gunna, Japanese Breakfast, Kenny Beats, Natanael Cano, Omar Apollo, Rema, Rina Sawayama, ROSALÍA, Saba, Snail Mail, Tems, Tokischa, Tenille Arts and more.

This year, we saw a 4X increase in Foundry applications, and the Class of 2022 is the program’s largest to date, with 30 artists representing 15 countries. Working with devoted teams and across genres, each artist in the class uniquely represents the spirit of independence. For YouTube’s global music team, it’s an honor to champion their work and potential, every step of the way.

Meet the Foundry Class of 2022 below and check out a playlist of songs from the class here.

Posted by Naomi Zeichner, Artist Partnerships Lead


How Gen Z connects with their faith and spiritual community

Despite growing up in the Catholic faith, Gogo Nobelungu was always drawn to African spirituality. With a family background of healers who practised in different lineages, Gogo - who also goes by Sis Gugu - eventually accepted her calling to use her gift of healing people across the world. As studies suggest Gen Z are doubling down on spirituality, with many young people turning to platforms like YouTube to find camaraderie and community. We spoke to Sis Gugu about leveraging the power of digital fraternities to connect with other spiritual followers, how she responds to naysayers and why her first YouTube video was an overnight success.

As a new content creator discussing spirituality, how has YouTube given you a platform to build your profile?
If I’m honest, I wasn’t always ready to embrace the ‘content creator’ title. My online presence has really been a result of me just speaking my mind because I’m such an opinionated spirit. I already have a devoted following on Instagram but my followers were constantly asking me to jump onto YouTube, so it was a no brainer.

I knew I was onto something after posting my first YouTube video which gained over 20,000 views in less than a week. This was a huge turning point and was really the driving force behind me finally making the leap into becoming a full-fledged content creator. I think people resonated with the video because it gave them a real and personal insight into my spiritual journey. When it comes to talking about African spirituality, I always wanted to challenge what we were taught about traditional religion. It’s important to use my digital platform to have these honest conversations where we can interrogate everything and ask hard questions. That’s why it was critical to enter into a space like YouTube with its huge global reach; especially since I found out that many of the people who enjoy and consume my content live outside of South Africa.

How do you use digital or social platforms to grow your brand and online community?
I like to create a safe space where there’s no judgement as I engage with people from all ages, religions and walks of life. This is super important with an often divisive topic like religion so a friendly and welcoming atmosphere gives my followers the freedom to speak freely. I am always looking for creative ways to connect with my followers so I decided to use Instagram to discuss a particular topic every other week. I use Twitter Spaces and IG Live to directly connect with them in real-time; that helps bring followers to my account frequently. I think it’s that consistency that gives them the reassurance to keep returning for my content and that has really helped grow my following.

Have you used Google’s tools, programmes or training to help your brand grow and be discoverable online?
I’m not really tech-savvy so I’ve been on a learning curve with YouTube especially, learning how to use the platform effectively to grow. After seeing the overnight success of the first video, I realised the importance of developing my video skills so I can have a more professional and slick production. I figured the first video performed so well without any planning, so imagine the reach I’ll have once I actually have a YouTube strategy! I will definitely take advantage of the YouTube training to structure my videos in a more compelling way and establish my credibility as a content creator to continue growing.

Have you faced any resistance/scepticism when sharing your faith/spirituality?
I was always aware of the trolling that I would receive online and that is just a negative by-product of becoming a content creator. Instead of rising to the bait, I use these as teachable moments where I can confront them and challenge their criticism, whilst fostering more open debate. I respect everyone's religion and I believe we can all take something from each one. I think all religious communities can co-exist and that's why I thrive at being a teacher because I don't belong to any one religious group.

Describe how your friends have responded to your calling as a spiritual leader?

In South Africa, we all come from different tribes with different beliefs and my friendship group is quite mixed. Some are traditional Christians, whilst others are agnostic or atheists. Since I grew up Catholic, many of my Christian friends didn’t

quite understand my spiritual calling. The great thing is that now I’ve been doing this work for a few years so they’ve come to accept my spirituality and we can have heated debates where we just agree to disagree and then move on.

Explain what you mean when you got your calling and what you were called to do?
I strongly believe that at least one person from every family is chosen to lead with a specific gift from the lineages that we come from. A calling is a gift that is passed down from different generations and becomes a duty for that person to have the strength & knowledge to take it forward to the generations that follow and it is not solely restricted to being a healer. A calling in my opinion varies from being a healer, farmer, businessman / woman etc and they all come from our ancestors and what they left us with so that we can carry the gifts down to the generations that follow. All gifts are different and my calling is to be “umthandazi” , (clairvoyant or messenger through the use of water and prayer) because my family is made up of sangomas, herbalists and pastors.

Describe what a Sangoma is for those not native to South Africa?
Through reading and learning, I’ve learnt that a sangoma according to Bionity and Wikipedia is “A practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counselling in traditional societies of Southern Africa. They perform a holistic and symbolic form of healing, with the use of bones and medicine, embedded in the beliefs of their culture that ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living.”

I am inspired by many Sangoma’s as they are highly revered in South Africa, and the community has worked hard in preserving and protecting our culture.

How is a Sangoma different from a medium or clairvoyant?
In my opinion, it is all interlinked and can sometimes cause confusion. It all depends on what you are called for and how you are required to practice. Some people work directly with a creator or higher power such as God, some people work with their ancestors together with God. Noting that people have different creators and gods. So, higher powers aren't the same in that some have strict religious practice, while others are led by “the universe” and others are led by “umvelinqangi”, who is also the creator for many in the black society.

What tells us apart, is the medium in which we practise from, however, we all have a higher power.

Clairvoyant - has an ability to see future events and how they correlate with the past or present. They may have different mediums of where they receive their information from, in my case, my base will always be my ancestors who show me visions for people. I use water and a white candle to receive the visions. Whereas for others, their base may be statues, cards, crystals, memos etc. A clairvoyant may also be on the line of what we would call a psychic.

Medium - is able to connect with a deceased person directly or on a one-on-one basis where they can have a full-on conversation with one specific deceased human.

The difference? While a medium can have a conversation with a deceased person one-on-one, others (like me) can only communicate with a tribe through visions. Which is not the same thing - there is a fine line because, for example, I don’t have abilities like “Hollywood Medium, Tyler Henry”. I can only tell you what will happen in the future and can also connect past events with present journeys. I work completely differently, therefore, I am not a medium. While they interlink, I would say my strength is in clairvoyance. I also can not heal through bones and medicine, therefore I am not a sangoma.

This may all seem as though they are all the same thing, but it all varies into so many different practices such as those who are prophets, izanusi, herbalists etc. Our gifts are multi-faceted and they are all separated by the specific calling that each person has. Basically, we are all called for different duties, by different powers and for different purposes, with the aim to be of help to others.

It is important for people to understand their specific callings. I implore individuals to research and learn on each gift because our historical background is a huge masterclass with different positionings and intentions, for different outcomes. You can never have all the answers from one read because one size does not fit all in the class of spirituality. Your family will also have most of the answers that you may require for your specific gifts.

How can one understand their calling? I personally learn from dreams, visions and senses. That’s how I am able to decode and receive messages. By “senses”, I mean that I am able to smell, see, hear or feel things that are about to happen. Whether it be a client coming to my house with a severe leg problem, before I meet them, I will have sharp pains in my leg and will know to discuss that in the session. Sometimes I can smell or hear - for example a car accident (fire, clutch, screeching sounds). It is a very interesting & scary world because you have to learn to discern and help according to what your ancestors show you in those visions.

As a healer or spiritualist, it’s also important to be transparent with what your strengths are so that you don’t present yourself as something you are not and or mislead others.

Do you think African spirituality isn’t given the same visibility as traditional religions like Christianity or Islam?
There’s a common misconception that spirituality on the continent is somehow primitive or uncivilised, so we really need to unpick that colonial narrative. Whilst we have a lot of work to do, there’s small progress being made. For example, the recent winner of Big Brother Mzansi (South Africa), Mphowabadimo, is actually a traditional healer. That on its own is huge and I’m glad she is unapologetic about who she is because she’s an inspiration to our generation. This provided an acceptance as well as an awareness of spirituality and I’m glad we're starting to become more accommodating of different cultures. My hope is that all religions will be given equal visibility. That’s why it’s important for healers to get the support of global brands such as Google, who can promote, celebrate and champion us. I think once people can see that the big brands are taking notice of what healers do, people will really start paying attention. The time for our traditions and cultures to be perceived as ‘taboo’ are over - we are light workers.

How are you challenging the perception of what a spiritual healer looks like?

I certainly don’t fit the “stereotypical” or “prayer warrior” perception of what a spiritual healer looks like. When I started out, I was constantly attacked for my appearance and it created a broader essence of doubt in terms of my credibility. However, I am proud of my look and whether I wear coloured wigs, nails or lashes, I’m still able to resonate with my followers. It’s important for people to see me as more than a healer; I’m an ordinary person with real emotions and desires. My spirituality doesn’t take away from my style or my extravagant nature. When I meet people in person, they always remark that they didn’t expect a healer to be funny or cool. Fortunately, there’s more representation happening right now so I hope I won’t be the exception, but the norm.

How does this work affect your mental health and how do you cope with that?

So I've had to literally give myself breaks to avoid being so overburdened. I know I’m not a superhero so I can’t save everyone, despite wanting to. Religion and spirituality can weigh heavily on our mental health - both physically and mentally. My breaks consist of digital detoxes where I stay off social media and put my goals on ice temporarily to ease some of the pressure. Other times, my Gobela (spiritual teacher), Gogo Nomakhosi, welcomes me into her home so that I can restart and be obedient to the duties that continue to resurface - it’s a constant journey of learning and growing and I am blessed to have a supportive family too.

What would be your advice for young people hoping to engage with spirituality?

We know that there have been huge significant generational shifts and Gen Z is much more likely to question everything rather than follow in blind faith. They are becoming much more open-minded to finding a version of spirituality that works for them and often that means stumbling onto YouTube to find healers like me. I hope I can help them embrace and lead their own spirituality. Everyone is looking for a healer to guide them, but spirituality is not group work, it's about individuality that comes from within and finding your own way. My biggest hope is for us to co-exist because truthfully if we can not be African in Africa, where else are we supposed to be African? Find comfort in your own light - dear African child.

Posted by Siya Madikane, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, Southern Africa, Google.