5 SA YouTubers Who Turned Their Popularity Into Profit

Updated on 16 June 2017

Subscription Form (#66)

5 SA YouTubers Who Turned Their Popularity Into Profit


All month long SME South Africa will highlight young entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers who are shaping the future, as part of our Youth Month 2017 coverage. Follow #YouthAmplified on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.

Nothing better illustrates the creativity and innovation that the youth has, and how they have successfully grabbed the opportunities offered by social media platforms, than the incredible rise of the YouTube influencer.

Influencers are online content creators who have succeeded in amassing a large social media following (either YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook), and are successfully leveraging this popularity to become brand ambassadors – and enjoying the big bucks that come with it as a result.

While the phenomenon is still relatively new in South Africa, the YouTube influencer market in the US and Europe is more established and lucrative.

Some of the world’s biggest YouTube influencers like Swedish comedian and video-producer PewDiePie (real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg) who has over 55 million subscribers and American Jenna Marbles (real name Jenna Mourey) with over 16.9 million subscribers, earn millions of dollars from their YouTube content.

South African YouTubers are also beginning to reap the rewards of their online success. They are now collaborating with brands like Takealot, Checkers, Steers and even international clothing brands like Topman, and becoming household names.

Kirsty Sharman, a marketer for South African online influencer platform Webfluential says what South African YouTubers lack in numbers they make up in influence.

“These YouTubers are storytellers, personalities, and trusted advisors to many South Africans because they make content that people care about, content people want to watch. A recent study by Google uncovered that 4 out of 10 millennials actually think that their favourite creator understands them better than their close friends – as a result, these YouTube creators have incredible influence.

In celebration of Youth Day – We take a look at South African YouTubers who are using their voices and are building their brands at the same time. 


Julia Anastasopoulos​ – Suzelle DIY (33)

Who – Julia Anastasopoulos is an artist, illustrator, designer and actress
Subscribers – 119, 993

Anastasopoulos became a local internet phenomenon soon after launching her DIY web series, Suzelle DIY channel in May 2014.


She very quickly established herself as South Africa’s YouTube queen. She won the award for South Africa’s favourite Online Celebrities in 2014, and secured first place in the Superbalist 100 campaign which celebrates influencers and entrepreneurs who are dominating their various industries.

On her channels she regularly collaborates with various local brands like Takealot, Gumtree and Checkers.

In 2016 she made the move to TV and her most popular videos were broadcast on the DStv channel, Comedy Central.

Anastasopoulos is active on the festival circuit. She has appeared at the Open Design Cape Town 2016 festival, a 12-day citywide design festival featuring exhibitions, workshops, tours, and activations.

She now also runs her own production company, Sketchbook Studios, alongside her fiance Ari Kruger. The company produces content for online, film and television, and handles all of the Suzelle video content. South African rapper, Jack Parow, is also a client.

Sibu Mpanza  (22)

Who – Sibu Mpanza is a full-time vlogger on YouTube and an entrepreneur
Subscribers  5,233


Mpanza started his social commentary and comedy YouTube channel in 2014.  He produces thought-provoking, but comedic videos on various social issues including race, gender and current affairs.

He has been recognised by the Faces of Impact Network, as one of 100 people under the age of 25 who are making a difference.

Mpanza has worked with brands like Topman, Takealot, as well as Vodacom, DisneyUK, Jameson, Standard Bank, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The thought-provoking channel has earned Mpanza honours like the Samsung Social Star Award and being chosen as a runner-up at the African YouTube Awards.

Because of his success, Mpanza too has launched his own media production company called Mpanza Media.

Nwabisa Mda (26), Thembe Mahlaba (26) and Bongeka Masango (25) – Pap Culture 

Who – Pap Culture is a Cape Town-based pop culture channel. It was created by vloggers Nwabisa Mda, Thembe Mahlaba and Bongeka Masango.
Subscribers – 3,536


The channel was created as an entertainment platform that the trio felt was missing on YouTube, especially in South Africa.

On their channel they address issues from voting and ethnicity to light-hearted topics like ‘finding a bae’ and social media etiquette.

Pap Culture have spoken out on female leadership at major conferences like TEDx Cape Town Women, says Sharman.

Their major collaboration has been with Librese, an online femcare learning platform, which aims to educate and bring female healthcare to the forefront.IFrame

​Nadav Ossendryver – Kruger Sightings (21)

Who – Nadav Ossendryver is a part-time student and CEO of Latest Sightings, an online, real-time wildlife spotting service for visitors of the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest game reserve.
Subscribers – 478,023


The youngest YouTuber on the list, Ossendryver launched his website and YouTube channel, Latest Sightings, in 2011 when he was only 15 years old while on a family holiday at the Kruger National Park.

His channel is used as a platform for people to post videos of their latest animal sightings in the Park. Now 21 years old, Ossendryver has one of the most viewed YouTube channels in the country.

Ossendryver is a regular feature at all the social media and leadership awards. He has won several awards including the South African Social Media Star award, the Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership award, and a Lead SA Youth award.

Ossendryver also partnered with Tendopro.com in 2016, a free home support learning tool, to teach wildlife courses to high school learners.

He has developed a business from his YouTube channel. The website also provides recommendations and specials on accommodation at the Kruger National Park.

Moshe Ndiki​ (25)

Who – Moshe Ndiki is a stand-up comedian, vlogger and presenter
Subscribers – 11,057


Ndiki’s first video went up in 2014. His first video titled “Living the Life”, was a 22-second clip of Moshe on a raft exploring a lake in Johannesburg.

His channel gained popularity when his video titled #Woozementation went viral. The video features him ranting after accidentally depositing money into the wrong account. The video received thousands of views on its first day and earned him even more viewers and subscribers.

Based on his YouTube success, in 2016 Ndiki was cast as a presenter on MTV Africa.

He has also contributed to Bona Magazine as an ‘agony uncle’, giving relationship advice to readers.

In 2017, Ndiki partnered with Steers to serve as a ‘hype man’ for the coverage of the 23rd installment of the South African Music Awards, alongside Vuzu TV personality DJ Speedsta, BoyznBucks and Stilo Magolide.

Get Weekly 5-Minutes Business Advice

Subscribe to receive actionable business tips and resources.

Subscription Form (#66)

Feeling Stuck?