Aug 2015 – Jul 2018

Creating an African Youth Digital platform (Shujaaz)

Kenya Tanzania

Country

Kenya & Tanzania – Africa

To harness the internet's potential to support social change in Africa.

$975,948 Multi-Year Grant Value

Partners

This investment will research and develop a new African youth digital media platform with Well Told Story, an award-winning Kenyan media company and producers of Shujaaz. It aims to tap into Africa’s rapidly growing youth online audiences to harness the internet’s potential to support social change. It will build on Shujaaz’s proven ability to understand and engage East African youth with stories and content which speaks to - and is relevant to - their lives.

By leveraging Shujaaz’s popular and established brand, the new digital platform will build on their success in engaging African youth in Kenya and Tanzania. Shujaaz’s existing media (comic books, radio, SMS, social media and games) reaches more than half of all 15-24 year olds in Kenya and it has demonstrated strong audience engagement with its fictional characters on issues such as contraceptive use and HIV/Aids.

Central to Shujaaz’s research-driven strategy is the hosting, informing, curating and tracking of big distributed conversations across its multi-media platforms, as well as offline in the audience’s real-life context. These Shujaaz-mediated peer-to-peer conversations are driving audiences to review, critically review, rethink and redefine their collective views – often passed on to them by older generations and never questioned before engagement with Shujaaz. These collective curated conversations act as multiple catalysts to nudge norms of attitude and behaviour towards positive change. 

This investment will support our adolescent sexual health work in East Africa.

Impact

If successful, Shujaaz Digital has the potential to disrupt the status quo of information flows to African youth. It is an opportunity to research and develop a potentially transformational communications channel for social change at scale. 

Well Told Story is currently going through a period of research and information gathering about how Kenyan youth use (or would like to use) digital media. As part of this process, our funding helped support the promotion and distribution for Jongo Love, a feature-length film shot entirely on a mobile phone. 

This powerful film tells the story of beautiful Bea whose desperate mother sells her into prostitution with an evil politician. Seizing her moment to escape she flees to Jongo, a legendary slum in the heart of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Her arrival in the hood causes serious ripples – everyone wants her, including the politician she has escaped – life will never quite be the same again for Bea or the people whose paths she crosses!

The Shujaaz Digital team spent the first year conducting research and focus grouping ideas with youth across Kenya. They have now moved into the design and development phase, testing out a number of options and potential platforms. 

They are hoping to launch Shujaaz Digital in Q2 or Q3 of 2017.