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Five emaSwati to compete for E300k ARISA funding

By Bahle Gama

Five emaSwati will be competing for E346 000 ($20 000) in seed funding as part of the Advancing Rights in Southern Africa (ARISA), Youth Media Literacy Program to be held in Johannesburg from November 15 to 16.

The regional event will see the five Emaswati vying for the prize money against three others from Lesotho. The event will bring together youth innovators, journalism students, civil society youth leaders and content creators to face off in a winner-takes-all competition hackathon.

According to a statement by ARISA, after an extensive call for entries, several applications were received from young people from Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, and Eswatini, who pitched ideas to develop innovative media products, to specifically address an unmet need.

The pitched media product ideas were required to target young audiences, have market potential and scalability, and seek to improve social value for young people in a specific country or the SADC region.
The finalists from Lesotho are Joyce Ramarora (24) who will be creating an EduYou Podcast, Tsoloane Mahlomi (28) who will be coming in with a Media Justice Platform whilst Koena Ts’iame (24) intends to start a Digital Fashion Magazine. All three are currently completing their journalism degree studies at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Lesotho.

The Eswatini finalists are Fezile Mnguni (26) who will create a digital newspaper reader, African Reader. Chester Maphalala(23) is coming in with a digital news platform called Tertiary News Hub, and Muzi Bhembe (24) will start a platform, Spill It which will share youth voices and
Celemusa Thusi (27) will develop an App ‘VROOM’ – a one-stop information platform and our last finalist, Gugulethu Mahlalela (21) will create a Young Minds, Innovative Brains Platform.

The Eswatini finalists include journalism and media study students completing their studies at the University of Eswatini and local youth-led CSOs providing services to youth in Eswatini. The two-day-hackathon will involve an intensive ideation process that will include guidance from the judging panel which comprises media, digital, social media, and design specialists, who will share industry knowledge, expertise, and insights as part of the mentorship assistance to finalists during the two-day Hackathon as they refine their final pitches for judging.

“Our esteemed judges include Tim Zunckel, from Internews; Simon Allison, Editor at The Continent and Mail & Guardian; Tshamano Makhadi, from the South African National Editors Forum and Botha Swarts, Founder of Seven56, a communications and media production agency,” reads the statement.

The Youth Media Literacy Program’s Facebook page will set up a Hackathon voting group where people will get to vote for the overall two winners who will each receive E173 000 ($10 000) in seed funding as well as intensive mentorship and support over four months to assure the
development of quality media products that can be sustained beyond the funding support period.

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