10 African digital products and platforms you should know and use as a creative/creator
Despite the issue of investment and funding, we still have people building for African creatives and creators. This article covers digital products and platforms you should know and use.
In recent years, the tech ecosystem in Africa has seen (and continues to see) impressive growth. A recent report stated that “Africa is expected to be the fastest-growing region for fintech between 2021 and 2030, even as revenues are projected to reach $60 billion.” It was also noted that startups in the space have raised more than $2 billion since 2018 and constantly top the list of most funded sectors annually. Some of the most valuable startups in the region are also fintech startups.
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Over the years, we have seen massive investments in companies and people building products in fintech, health-tech, prop-tech, agri-tech, e-commerce, ed-tech, and other fascinating tech-enabled sectors. These investments have seen to the growth of the spaces. For example, if you need to send or receive money, you have at least 10 options to pick from because of the level of investment in the fintech space.
In all the growth happening, a group of people are still left behind in terms of investment and people building for them. They still have to look to foreign digital products, tools, and platforms to get their work done. Who are these people? They are the African Creatives and Creators.
The African Creative Industry
In 2021, UNESCO published a report that showed that the African creative sector is underfunded and underdeveloped. It estimates the sector currently employs only five million people and accounts for only $5 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the continent.
Africa No Filter, an organisation working to shift stereotypical narratives of Africa, also stated that “the creative and cultural industries (CCI) across Africa generate about US$4.2 billion in revenue and has a growth rate that outpaces other sectors on the continent.”
An exposé on the African creator economy noted that "even though the creator economy is said to be worth over $100 billion and growing fast, Africa seems to be an afterthought in the conversations that shape it.”
Okay, stay with me for a second. As a creator or creative in/from Africa, make a list of 10 tools, products, and software you use every day and tell me how many of them were made/built in Africa. While we have greatly benefited (and continue to benefit) from using the tools made by ‘non-African’ companies, the problem is that they do not account for the bottlenecks Africans face when building these products.
A very good example to illustrate this is the pricing tier. A lot of the pricing of these products does not tally with the economic realities of most African users. The reality is that disposable income is low in many African countries. Let’s assume you are a high earner and can even afford to pay these subscription fees, finding a reliable and acceptable payment option and method is another issue and bottleneck. So the point is that we need to build indigenous products that cater to creatives and creators.
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Building global products for African creatives and creators
Despite the issue of investment and funding, we still have people building for African creators and creatives. So I have curated ten (10) of the products and platforms made by Africans for African creators and creatives. This article covers digital products and platforms you should know and use as an African creative and creator.
Retna is a platform that provides access to beautiful African images to help everyone tell relatable African stories. Though it was launched in public beta in November 2022, it went live to the general public in March 2023. In a brand press, it says it is building Shutterstock for Africa and wants to revolutionise marketing content creation in the region.
According to Retna, “It is a free library of high-quality photos of Africa and Africans featuring a vast collection of photos contributed by talented photographers across Africa.” It also stated that it “aims to challenge stereotypes and showcase Africa’s diversity through the eyes of its people while empowering African photographers and creatives, providing greater exposure, extra income, and vital education and resources to navigate the business side of creative work effectively.”
2) Color Space
Color Space is an innovative online platform that caters to the creative community by providing a diverse range of high-quality stock photos and digital assets. With a focus on delivering visually captivating content, Color Space aims to inspire and empower photographers, designers, marketers, and other creative professionals in South Africa and beyond.
Color Space says “It is committed to supporting both contributors and customers.” In a bid to support talented photographers and artists, “It provides a platform to showcase and monetize their work, offering fair compensation and the opportunity to reach a broader audience.” It also stated that it prioritises collaboration, fostering a community where creative professionals can connect, learn from one another, and share their artistic journey.
Check out colorspace.co.za as a photographer to showcase your work and as a user to find amazing African photos for your next project.
3) New Comma
New Comma (still in Beta) is the social media platform for African creatives to connect, create, learn and earn. New Comma says its mission is to connect African creatives to lucrative opportunities.
New Comma is a space for African creatives to connect, create, learn, and earn. It’s also open to people of all ethnicities looking to hire and mentor them.
It is a home for budding creatives - the new commas, and experts are welcome too. “We’re here to spark innovation by uncovering and stimulating African talent,” it stated.
Born out of a mission to support the upcoming generation of African creatives, every month, New Comma awards a one-time contribution of £100 to support an African creative with no strings attached under The New Comma Creative Fund.
Visit newcomma.com now to sign up, share your work, and find opportunities.
Trybe is a platform built to enrich, improve, and ease the lives of creatives. It calls itself The Home Of Creative Africa.
Trybe says it is solving the biggest problems of creatives by providing opportunities to make money, advice, tools, and a platform to make the creative experience less stressful. It also curates exhibitions, consults for brands, and conducts surveys on the creative industry. It added that it is “committed to improving the creator economy across the continent.”
On Trybe, you can: Find Creative Opportunities; Discover Creative Events; Buy African Art; and Get Curation Services.
Visit trybeafrica.com to get started.
AMAKA is a MediaTech platform, spotlighting diverse and nuanced stories for women from Africa and the diaspora. AMAKA provides a platform that highlights and maintains the diversity, dynamism, and vigour of Pan-African womanhood.
“Despite the feats recorded by Pan-African content creators in the creative economy, the odds have stood against them. Content creators and entrepreneurs across Africa and the diaspora have found monetising and amplifying their creations challenging. Existing digital space often overlooks, shadow ban, or underpay creators resulting in missed opportunity and little global visibility for their work,” AMAKA says it aims to change this narrative through a publishing technology creator platform that opens the door for young African creators to reach new audiences and monetise their content through subscriptions.
The Benefits of AMAKA's Creator Platform for Creators include writing and publishing your story; building your own community; earning money from your creativity; multi-currency payment solutions; tipping; sponsored branded content; and access to events.
Visit Amaka.studio to get started.
As the name implies, Nigerianmockups is a library of photorealistic mockups, for Nigerian (African) designers by Nigerian designers.
Nigerianmockups is a brainchild of the people at CheckDC, a design agency based in Lagos, Nigeria. “While working hard to ensure that the solutions we create are authentic and precise reflections of every brand’s message, having to use foreign mockups and elements to represent them— because that’s what is mostly available — always felt like adding tribal marks to the Mona Lisa. These mockups just could not portray the authenticity we seek. But how do we use Nigerian mockups in our designs if there are hardly any available? Simple: we create them!” they wrote in a post on why they created NM.
Visit Nigerianmockups.com to get free mockups for your next project.
Vzy is an AI-powered website builder. It makes it easy for you to create amazing websites without coding, from your mobile device or computer. It has pre-made templates, fast customisation, simple analytics, and CRM all in one platform.
“Vzy uses AI to automate your website design process. Just tell Vzy what your business is about, and watch it get to work! You can create a stunning website effortlessly, even without coding or design skills. Best of all, you can manage multiple websites on one account and use your custom domains. It's perfect for freelancers, small businesses, landing pages, and portfolios,” it says on its website.
It is a good way to set up your portfolio as a creative. Visit vzy.co to get started.
Selar is an e-commerce tool creators & entrepreneurs use to sell their content, products & services globally without stress. It allows creators and creatives to easily monetise their knowledge and audience through digital products and services.
"Someone that signs up on Selar has six currencies by default. All they might need to do is set the currency they'd like to be paid in," says its founder.
The process solves the payment problem experienced with similar services over the years. Selar's payment infrastructure allows a Ghanaian to pay in cedis while a Nigerian gets the money in naira.
Visit selar.co now to get started.
Mainstack is an all-in-one platform for creators and entrepreneurs to showcase and receive payments from their global audience.
Like Selar, Mainstack also allows you to showcase your work, sell products and services, create invoices and payment links, track analytics and revenue, manage customers, and build your community - with access to global payment options.
Mainstack allows you to create an elegant link in bio, a stylish portfolio, or a microsite to showcase your incredible work and services with its drag-and-drop builder. It requires no code.
Visit mainstack.co to get started.
Fullgap (still in Beta) is an operating system helping freelancers streamline their work and onboard their clients like a pro. With Fullgap, you can onboard and chat with your clients, manage projects, and automate your processes, all in one place.
Fullgaps offers project management, invoicing, agreements/contracts, payments, and more tools to power how you deliver value for your clients.
Visit fullgap.co to get started.
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These products and platforms are some of the ones built with African creatives and creators in mind. So when next you need to do anything that has to do with what they offer, do well to check them out. Using these products and giving feedback is what will make them improve and how we can grow to attract the kind of investment needed for the African creative industry.
PS: If you are building or know of any interesting African products and platforms we should highlight in future articles, please feel free to recommend them in the comment section.
You can reach me via tunmiseafape[at]gmail[dot]com or reach me at tunmiseafape on major social media platforms if you would love your product to be featured.