Africa is arguably one of the most youthful nations in the world. In fact, 77% of its population is younger than 35. This young, vibrant population brings with it much potential.
For podcaster and talent director Agnes Muthoni, this generation represents a future in which young people have access to become content creators.
In an interview with ContentGrip, Agnes describes how she connects brilliance with opportunity and shares insights on how technology cultivates hope and confidence in Africa.
When she was ten years old, Agnes already knew that she had a passion for assisting underserved communities. She wanted to carve out new pathways for them that would lead to the world of work. Throughout the years, Agnes has always focused on introducing individuals to opportunities, regardless of their economic status.
Over the course of her career, which spans more than two decades, Agnes has worked in fintech and talent marketplaces. In 2007, she worked for CVS Caremark Corporation as an implementation advisor. One key thing she discovered over the years was how to match talent with capital.
"For example, a woman selling vegetables by the side of the street, also known as mama mbogai, living in a remote village who earned as little as US$100 per month," she said.
Agnes went on to explain that when the vegetable hawker gets access to her first loan, she buys machinery and dairy products that increase her business productivity. Increasing productivity gives her more income and time to spend reading books with her kids in the evening.
But, according to Agnes, these kinds of small loans are not enough to raise people's earnings. Millions of Africans continue to struggle from underemployment on a daily basis. However, recent developments that have led to the rise of the 'creator economy' on the continent.
This is opening up a multitude of new gates for helping individuals generate new revenue for their families, while also atttacting various fresh forms of capital, says Agnes.
Going home with a dream
Agnes was inspired to look at her world from a different perspective after learning about an idea called the 'conceptual age' from Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind.
In essence, the conceptual age is a period of creative, innovative, and empathic ideas. In the end, Pink suggests that we need a world that circulates two important skills: creativity and empathy.
Agnes realized that she could build a career with both passion and purpose. She wanted to find a venture where she could pour all her energy into a vision of unleashing the potential of young Africans.
When she traveled home from the United States to Kenya in 2010, she realized the importance of having access to online learning and global work opportunities.
After a stint in the banking sector, she began exploring talent marketplaces. Currently, she is a director of talent partnerships at Andela, an American company with operational campuses in Africa – including Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya – that identifies and develops software developers, then helps them find positions at international companies.
Throughout the years, life-improvement stories kept Agnes motivated and focused on her goal of leveraging the potential of African youths.
For example, she learned about companies that allow individuals to contribute, own, and operate platforms and products they rely on, such as Axie Infinity. Axie Infinity is a popular online game with an in-game currency based on Ethereum. Users can earn and sell in-game tokens and convert them into real income.
Platforms like Axie Infinity present another unique way to earn a living while maintaining agency and autonomy.
"Whether you are a software engineer, artist, or content creator, we are seeing more tools and platforms being developed for the creator to get paid," says Agnes. "Creators will have more ownership over the work they produce with their minds."
Community XChange in Africa illuminates the creator economy
In December 2021, Agnes launched a newsletter for people and businesses that work with the creator economy. Her mission was to share experiences and insights from thought leaders and builders. She wanted to support creators by helping them deliver better content, grow their audiences, and increase their income.
With today’s tech, people have more access to opportunities that allow them to improve their craft, connect with customers, and profit readily, regardless of their location. Through her stories, Agnes aims to demonstrate the potential of the modern creator economy – namely for young Africans.
In addition to the newsletter, Agnes currently hosts a couple of podcast called Community XChange and Creator Economy in Africa. In her podcast, Agnes seeks to establish connections and strengthens relationships with influential figures in the creator economy space. The simple aim is to connect people in Africa with paid work.
"Over the last five months, I've managed to feature some amazing guests on my podcasts while building long-term relationships," she says.
Some guests featured in her podcast include Johnny Falla (CGO at Wowzi), Samora Kariuki (founder of Frontier Fintech Newsletter), and Steven Sunmonu (vice president at The Raine Group).
Meanwhile, the newsletter complements the podcast by helping grow her audience and build stronger, more personal relationships via email.
Agnes aims to incorporate thought-provoking conversations, literature, and personal experiences in every newsletter and podcast episode. She also lays out her mission to connect more creators with paid opportunities.
In the future, Agnes intends to generate profit from her passion project. But for now, her current focus is to just grow the audience, get feedback, and deliver measureably better content each week.
Agnes imparts some advice to creators in Asia, Africa, and beyond by echoing the founder of Do You Zoom and American author Seth Godin's ethos:
"Start now and ship that idea out to the world. Because the world needs that special talent that only you have."
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