Of late, one of the buzz words on the Internet has been content curation. This is the process of discovering, gathering and presenting content, mostly digital, that surrounds a specific subject matter.
In some cases, the curator might not necessarily create new content, but rather, come up with relevant content on a topical matter and funnel it to the audience, in a mash-up style.
In that vein, there is a mound of opportunities within curation. Little wonder, it is fast becoming the next big thing while scores of people are taking up the challenge of being the brains behind specific content.
One of such curators is Karen Mwendera, a Malawian based in South Africa. She is at the helm of curating the continent’s youthful but formidable brightest minds.
The Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list, annually recognises and celebrates youths under the age of 30, who are building brands, creating jobs and transforming the continent.
As curator, the 25-year old used to sift through a pile of nominations and sees to it that all those inspiring stories and individuals come to light.
But how did she find herself at the helm of this enviable job?
“I used to work with Forbes Africa full time but now I freelance with them especially on curating the 30 Under 30 list. I have been working as a journalist in South Africa for three years. I found myself at the helm of that list in 2019. “Initially, I was working hand-in-hand with the former curator and when she left, I was given the opportunity. It has been such an amazing journey and one of the highlights was last year when we had to profile 120 finalists from across Africa. It was the longest list we’ve had,” she said.
The process is long and daunting as it involves back and forth schedules with nominees.
“We look at several factors and at the moment, we have four categories: sports, business, creatives and tech. With each of those, we look at different factors to consider and usually, it entails months of scrutinising nominations.
“It starts with checking all submissions to see if they meet the standard criteria. Those who qualify to the second stage, are asked to send documents which are also scrutinised and I come up with the final list. Our auditors then check the financial details of the applicants and the list gets shortened as well based on the comments from the audit perspective,” she explained.
The second stage documents include CV, audit reports and police report, among others.
“The remaining submissions are looked at by a panel of judges and that is the last stage of the whole process. In the business category for example, we look for people that are entrepreneurs or founders, have a registered business on the continent which should not be less than two years old just to mention a few,” states Mwendera.
This year, Malawi made over 50 nominations out of 3 000 from the continent. Only, videographer Gift Sukali alias Sukez made the cut while other countries like Nigeria, Kenya had more than one awardee.
For Mwendera, the issue is not about Malawi alone but a number of countries miss out on the list due to a number of reasons.
“These include late submission of nominations, documents not in order, missing financials or audit reports and not enough records of their business for example.
“The other challenge is that some nominees are not visible online and this makes it difficult to verify who they are and what they do or even get references. If one’s business is not online, it is very hard to determine if they are credible or not,” she said.
Mwendera affirmed: “I would like to encourage Malawians to grow their businesses and teams and give this opportunity a shot. They should also have a social impact in terms of what they are doing whether as an individual or a business. Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 is a list of game-changers on the continent and brightest achievers.”
Apart from Sukali, some Malawian youths who have made it on the list include Upile Chisala and Schizzo Thompson last year, Muhike Chilewe and Mwayi Kampesi in 2017 while Ellen Chilemba was recognized in 2015.
Sukez, founder of HD Plus Creation believes Malawian young entrepreneurs need to work hard in building a name for themselves in order to be recognised by entities like Forbes Africa.
“I believe I made it because of my proven track record. I started with borrowing equipment and making simple music videos. I then moved to local and international music videos before getting into adverts, movies and documentaries. So I would urge Malawians to work hard, build a profile that stands out.
“Also, your story, that is where you are coming from, where you are and your dreams for the future need to be inspiring, with a clear and sustainable direction. HD Plus started from scratch, where I was making videos from borrowed equipment to now that we have a fully-fledged studio,” he explained.
The multi-award winning Mwendera is also a media studies lecturer.