South African TikTok creators score big with grants to aid their efforts

Solina Naidoo of Durban is one of 20 SA TikTok creators to have been chosen as Rising Voices grant recipients.
Solina Naidoo of Durban is one of 20 SA TikTok creators to have been chosen as Rising Voices grant recipients.
Image: SUPPLIED

Being a TikTok creator is more than just aiming a cellphone camera at yourself.

This week, Solina Naidoo and 19 other creators discovered that their hard work, passion and consistency paid off when the video-sharing app announced the inaugural cohort of Rising Voices grant recipients, who will share R860,000 in total.

Naidoo, the face behind “Perima's Kitchen”, participated in the first-ever six-week Rising Voices incubator programme in June where, along with 80 other creators, the grant recipients were given mentorship, masterclasses and special training on content creation for TikTok.

In addition to the cash grant, recipients will continue to receive content advice and support while they conceptualise and curate 10 pieces of content for their platforms. TikTok will provide further support by amplifying their content to users on the platform, which in turn will help those creators grow their accounts.

“I was one of 100 finalists chosen to be part of the intensive six-week programme, where we learnt more about aspects pertaining to social media, we challenged ourselves with weekly tasks and we were inspired and motivated by the awesome masterclasses.

“I then was notified that I was selected as the recipient of the grant. I couldn’t believe it! I was emotional because the accolade meant so much. It meant that I’ve been recognised together with my peers for my dedication and hard work. My cooking skills have been recognised as well as my skills as a creator,” she told TimesLIVE.

The 20 Rising Voices grant recipients were selected by a panel of judges from the TikTok creator and content team based on their engagement levels, dedication to the programme and overall project immersion. Grant recipients include thozimusic, khanyisa_jaceni, doctor.siya and sphokuhle.n.

Naidoo, who manages holiday property rentals in KwaZulu-Natal, has 110,000 followers, who log on for recipes and cooking tutorials, comedy, makeup skits and dance trends.

The mother of two became a creator a year ago.

“I lost my Perima (my mother's eldest sister) in May 2020. She was a legendary woman who was all about family and delicious food. I started sharing my food pictures online but people wanted my recipes and because I know the method is so important, I decided to make it visual as opposed to just written. 

“At the beginning of August during Women’s Month, I started working with it online,” she said.

Naidoo's 11-year-old daughter, Shivayah, helped her film and edit.

“I then started doing everything on my own with help from the kids now and again.

“I took for granted that everyone knows how to cook traditional meals and when I realised people needed help, I decided this was my way to keep these timeless recipes trending. These classic recipes which formed bonds and memories with those closest to us,” she said.

Naidoo is thankful for the grant.

“My son, Yahvi, wants Harry Potter Lego. My daughter just wants all the yummy foods she enjoys. I would love some equipment and a laptop because my screen display crashed and I have been using a phone to do all my editing. I am part of a feeding programme with Seva Bhakti and will contribute to the foundation as well,” she said.  

TikTok content operations manager for Africa Boniswa Sidwaba said growing a diverse and all-inclusive community on TikTok remains a priority for the platform.

“Through Rising Voices, our goal has always been to uplift and empower creators of colour on the platform, providing the necessary support to help them express themselves. With the right tools at their fingertips, we were truly spellbound by the incredible talent that came to light over the last six weeks.

“During the programme, it was inspiring to see participants fully immerse themselves in creating quality content, participating in the masterclasses and taking to collaboration and connecting with each other with great enthusiasm. We are excited to reveal that in addition to the 839 million views received across creator content, 4.6 million followers were gained, 2.1 million shares occurred and a total of 9,800 videos created, showcasing local and relatable content created during the course of the programme.”

Sidwaba added that South Africa was home to extraordinary local talent with the ability to stand out on a global stage such as TikTok.

“We trust that the skills learnt, and discussions had, will empower this generation of content creators to create a bright future for themselves. On TikTok, the possibilities are really endless.”

CEO  of the National Film and Video Foundation, Makhosazana Khanyile, said the foundation was proud to have been chosen to partner with TikTok on the groundbreaking initiative.

“The opportunity to mould young content creators into future entrepreneurs that will learn to take advantage of all forms of media and monetise their ideas is one we were happy to support. Congratulations to all the young people that were chosen to take part and we look forward to future collaborations.”


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