Youth Content Collective connects corporate SA with township content creators, creating income opportunity

Youth Employment Service (YES), in collaboration with Metropolitan GetUp and Ford SA, has launched the Youth Content Collective (YCC) – a platform that connects talented black South African content creators with businesses, so that these young individuals can earn a meaningful living from their creative abilities.

YCC launch: From left to right: James Boulton (Marketing Manager: Metropolitan); Nontokozo Madonsela (Group CMO: Momentum Metropolitan); Jason Levin (YCC); Leanne Emery (Acting Co-CEO: YES); Peter Tshiguvho (CEO: Metropolitan); Kgothatso Mahlaku (YCC content creator); Hillie Meyer (CEO: Momentum Metropolitan); Tlalane Ntuli (CMO: Metropolitan); Matshelane Mamabolo (YES); Vaunn Kelly (Acting Co-CEO: YES)


YCC’s first cohort is made up of 50 photographers, videographers, filmmakers and illustrators, aged between 18 and 35. At the start of their careers, these individuals generally have little professional experience, but show raw talent and a strong will to succeed. Through the programme, they are able to monetise their skillsets and services, by making their work available to both local and international markets. The intention is to grow the programme to thousands of creators within three years.

Leanne Emery, Acting Co-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at YES, says that the initiative was born out of a desire to address South Africa’s rising rate of youth unemployment, which has sky-rocketed to 46,3% (and as high as 63,3% in certain age sub-categories, as per StatsSA, Q1:2021) since the onset of the pandemic.

“It’s a national crisis of epidemic proportions, and the formal sector cannot create employment at the scale that is needed. However, the fourth industrial revolution has allowed us to leapfrog some of the obstacles and create opportunities that would not have been open to these youths 10 years ago,” she says.

“Simply put: we either get youth working, or our country won’t.”

Emery explains that Metropolitan GetUp and YES conducted research in mid-2020 to determine where some of the greatest opportunities lay in terms of fulfilling a pressing business need, while enabling youth to generate an income.

“It soon became clear that these was a dire need for locally-produced photo and video stock, as seen through an authentic, South African lens. Our mission for this programme became clear; to identify local talent who would be able to produce stills, video, illustrations and other creative assets that would plug this gap.”

Berniece Hieckmann, Head of Metropolitan GetUp, says that the initiative leverages the emerging gigging economy that Covid has catalysed. “This shift in our working paradigm will widen the talent marketplace, while democratising access to opportunity for young people.”

In addition to connecting them with corporates, YCC aims to help young content creators become micro-entrepreneurs through providing mentorship and training. Hieckmann says that YCC will unlock shared value for all stakeholders: businesses benefit from having access to rich, authentic and dynamic content; content creators have an opportunity to generate an income and upskill themselves; while from a broader perspective, South Africa benefits through an initiative that strategically tackles the issue of youth unemployment.

Hieckmann adds that another obstacle that young people from disadvantaged communities face is that they don’t always have the networks that their privileged counterparts have. “YCC’s platform facilitates connections, laying the foundation for further engagement in the future.”

Emery concludes by urging companies, both large and small, to submit their creative briefs to the YCC. “Give our content creators the opportunity to show you what they’re made of. I believe that you’ll be blown away by the talent we have access to.”

For more information and to submit your creative brief to YCC, please contact the Programme Coordinator, Matshelane Mamabolo ( or 065 8992731), or find out more at @YouthContentCollective on LinkedIn and Facebook.

PHOTO CREDIT: YCC image by Kgothatso Mahlaku, YCC content creator and 21-year old photographer