South Africa has 13 million Facebook users, 7.4 million users on Twitter, 8.28 million Youtube subscribers and 2.68 million users on Instagram. To some these are just numbers, but to the five young people below, they hold power. This is how they’re using social media and the Internet to run businesses virtually.
Tasmiyah Haffejee is a grade 10 pupil with a business in her pocket. The 15-year-old imports makeup brands and accessories she sells through @MakeupSA_. “I’ve been on Instagram for three years, and have 7450 followers. Companies were attracted to that and asked me to review and promote their brands,” says Tasmiyah. One of the ways in which she makes her cash is through referrals. “I have a discount code that followers can use when they want to order from Dodo Lashes. They get a percentage off their orders while I make commission on every sale that uses my code.”
Although he doesn’t have a full album yet, musician Langa Mavuso (22) counts performing at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and collaborating with producer and performer Spoek Mathambo and London-based artist George Anderson among his career highs. He says it’s all thanks to SoundCloud. “Soundcloud gave me a CV and circulated my music without me having to go door to door,” he says. “With social media, artists can now make good work and share it online to market themselves. Getting my music out would have taken years without my Instagram and Twitter pages.”
Mbali Cele (24) started Beauty Meets Confidence, a Facebook shop which sells African print headwraps, caps, bags and human hair, after losing her job at Standard Bank in 2015. “Social media has unlocked the business industry massively because it’s worldwide and presents bigger opportunities to take our products around the world before even reaching the place physically,” she says, adding that she chose Facebook because its users come from all demographics, which makes it possible for her to reach young and older people.
Mogau Seshoene (27) launched The Lazy Makoti in 2015 to teach urban women to cook South African dishes. Her business has grown from just giving lessons; she now has regular content like recipes, tips and an online store that sells kitchen accessories. Before creating the site, she used social media to advertise and attract clients. “The cost of opening a shop and carrying stock is simply too high in this financial climate. But thanks to the convenience of technology, I’m still able to connect with clients without needing to incur the cost of having a physical shop,” she says.
5. Facebook and Twitter
When Adele Maluleke (26) finally turned her love for fashion into a design business, Blaq Diamond Creations, it was natural for her to turn to Facebook instead of looking for a physical shop. “I realised that people tell each other about a certain designers page. It’s easy to get more recognition through Facebook, where I can reach people I know, who in turn spread the world to non-mutual friends,” says Adele.