The Netflix Creative Equity Fund has provided a variety of graduate students in UKZN’s School of Applied Human Sciences (SAHS) with funding to assist them continue with their studies and research.
‘Part of the School’s Community Engagement transformation imperative is to ensure adequate student funding opportunities from external partners and industry,’ said Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) lecturer, Professor Lauren Dyll. ‘The students who have benefitted from the fund thus far are from the CCMS – they are critical thinkers and storytellers with inspiring ideas who at times cannot continue with their studies because of historic debt or a lack of funds.
‘The fund’s positive impact in alleviating burden and unlocking potential is evident in the case of CCMS student Mr Qiniso Mbili who is a recipient of the Netflix Graduate Assistance Programme (GAP) Grant.’
Dyll said Mbili had dedicated a year working towards a master’s degree, exploring the use of video and photography as a participatory tool in recording contemporary oral perceptions of Bakoni heritage in Mpumalanga.
‘He was devastated when he realised historic debt he had would prevent him from completing his master’s degree in his second year,’she said.
Mbili then received the grant which allowed him to continue and his
photography and videography have been featured on Al Jazeera, and in the Financial Mail and The Daily Vox. As a visual artist and social activist, his solo photography exhibition titled Wena Wezulu has been held in the Hazard Gallery in Johannesburg, and The Office and Menzi Mchunu Gallery in Durban.
The exhibition explored African traditional and political leadership issues affecting South Africa and Africa.
‘I received the grant with humbling gratitude,’ said Mbili. ‘A bursary from one of the leading brands in the industry is a life-changing opportunity not only because of its monetary value but also because of the association I now have with organisations such as Netflix. This further strengthens my existing commitment to my studies and I am more determined than ever to perform at my best.’
He is co-founder of the non-profit organisation The Organised People Towards Development through which he seeks to improve the socioeconomic status of people in his rural community.
Said Dyll: ‘This a worthy investment by the Creative Equity Fund which will likely yield positive multiplier effects. By alleviating Qiniso’s stress, the fund has also benefitted those connected to the NGO.’