Yusuf and Sumaiya Omar are the founders of "Hashtag Our Stories" - a Durban-based social media startup. Last year Snapchat invested R2 million in the company and Hashtag was of the nine companies in the world that was chosen to take up a three-month residency at Snaps building in Los Angeles. Hashtag Our Stories created an international mobile journalism social media network.
Since September 2017 they have empowered thousands of entrepreneurs in over 40 countries. The network is ‘created by citizens, but curated by journalists’. “We believed that traditional media missed [the emergence of] Donald Trump. Why? Because they stopped listening to people,” “[Media companies] were listening to polls and pundits and experts, and commentators and they lost touch with real people on the ground.”
Yusuf Omar is a multi-award winning journalist and Co-founder of Hashtag Our Stories, a TEDx speaker and a former CNN and eNCA Senior Reporter. Rhodes University Graduate, left traditional media in 2010 to travel 12,000 kilometres in Africa. He wanted to be a foreign correspondent and no one would give him the resources,” he says. “So, I just literally threw my thumb to the wind, backpacked with old T-shirts [and] a head full of young dreams."
After brief stints at 24-hour television station ENCA and Independent Newspapers, Omar ended up at the Hindustan Times in India where he trained 750 journalists how to do mobile journalism. In March 2017, his “big master grand prize’” arrived when he was appointed senior social reporter at CNN in London. “[But] I started to realise that I didn't need them anymore. I didn’t need their equipment; I didn't need their brand; I didn't need their satellite trucks. ”That was the turning point in his life and in doing so launched Hashtag Our Stories.
Sumaiya is the co-founder of Hashtag Our Stories, building monetization strategies and business models. A business commerce graduate with 6 years of experience in banking, building mobile and online products. She’s also a contributor for the International News Media Association and Thomson Foundation. Sumaiya spent five years experimenting with emerging news platforms like Snapchat and Instagram in South Africa, India and the UK and has conducted mobile journalism workshops with broadcasters across Europe.