Set to go live early 2021, New Comma has opened up their waitlist to local and diaspora African creatives. The platform is set to help young creatives of African and Black heritage with a pathway into the industry. The site will showcase their work, and empower African creatives with opportunities and resources to compete locally, as well as on an international scale. It is also a place for agencies and global industry leaders to mentor and support these trailblazers.
The platform is the second collaboration from Natalie Narh and Nigel Atta-Mensah, Ghanaian creatives based in London with over 16 years of combined experience in their crafts. Their first venture, The Cool Kids Project, documented upcoming creative talent in Accra, Ghana with an aim to highlight the importance of providing these budding entrepreneurs and creatives with the support they deserve well before they make it on the global stage. Natalie is a social content creative at Ogilvy UK, while Nigel is Co-Founder of The CREC - a collective of young professional creatives.
Yellowzine spoke to Natalie about New Comma about how they hope to differentiate themselves from the other networking platforms available in the creative industry. "It has a very specific lens on local and diaspora African creatives. And the reason why we phrase it this way instead of just saying Black creatives is because, in terms of the semantics behind the word, often in the industry when we just say Black people, the mind goes to African-Americans or they think of Black British people before they think of local Africans." For New Comma, the importance of centering creatives within the continent is crucial. "The main thing that we want to do is push more local Africans on the global stage by connecting them with other Africans across the diaspora."
New Comma wants to fight against any 'diaspora saviour' complex and create a platform that is truly by the people, for the people. To ensure the platform is well catered to creatives in Africa, as well as those amongst the diaspora, Nigel and Natalie are building the site along with Barima Effah, a web-developer based in Ghana. Although they spent their formative years in Ghana, having lived in the UK for most of their adult lives, they are aware that they are not as connected to the intricacies of the creators' experience within the country, or Africa as a whole as they once were. To counter this, they've been interviewing African creatives across the globe to gain insight on their barriers and needs to progress a creative career where they are based. “Our goal is to create an ecosystem for African creatives to enhance the quality of the work they produce, while being in control of their own narrative on a platform that is made especially for them,” says Natalie.
New Comma founders believe that for Africa’s creative scene to truly become the high value sector it deserves, it requires collaborative action, as well as intellectual and financial support. With its expanding digital economy, declines in data costs, and - in light of the pandemic - shift towards remote workspaces, the continent’s creative industries are in a good place. Young Africans are expected to make up 42% of the world’s youth population by 2030 (PRB,2019). With such a large population of young people on the continent, it’s imperative that structures are put in place to support them and connect them with other Africans across the diaspora in the creative field. This will steadily combat Africa’s youth unemployment challenges and stimulate the creative scene. In turn, this will develop other sectors such as transport, leisure, and tourism.
The main feature on the online platform will be the ability to host free portfolios. "And those portfolios would be made flexible and customisable kind of like Wix or Squarespace, where you can technically build your templates from scratch." Natalie tells us. Coupled with that, New Comma will also host CV clinics and resources to help prepare newcomers in the industry enter the job market. In addition to creatives, the site will offer a place for agencies to seek out new talent, and aid their growth. The platform will provide a pool of African talent for organisations/enquirers looking to hire part-time and full-time creative roles locally or internationally.
New Comma will also create avenues for agencies to support upcoming creatives through linear mentorship schemes, sponsorships and more. Creating linear relationships between industry leaders and New Commas, who need their advice and guidance.
Words by Aisha Ayoade