Bulelani Mvotho, owner of Snapshot Mobile Cinema, in Harare, who had been battling for years to obtain funding to revive his company, has heaped praises on MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation for funding his company and rescuing it from its demise.
The company was launched in 2007 aimed at providing a platform to up-and-coming film-makers to produce films highlighting social ills. One of the fundamental missions of the company was to educate, inform and inspire youth who come from poverty-stricken communities with knowledge to better assist them in making informed decisions about their future through watching educational films.
According to the executive director of the Staying Alive Foundation, Georgia Arnold, the funding was targeted at grassroots organisations which have previously received funding from the organisation for their small scale HIV awareness projects.
She said the new funding has been specifically created to help these organisations to launch their own businesses, generate income and become financially sustainable in both the medium and long term.
“Part of the profit each of the organisations will make through their business will be invested back into local HIV awareness and prevention activities. We have looked at innovative businesses to address the social ills.
“The proposals we looked through had some really innovative ideas for both ambitious HIV awareness targets along with the means to keep their projects financially sustainable through the entrepreneur component. We are confident that we have chosen projects with strong business plans , and are really excited to see the results,” she said.
Talking to Vukani, Mr Mvotho said most township residents were battling to make ends meet and therefore could not afford to go to cinemas to watch movies.
And so was born his idea to go to communities across the province, organising movies screenings and allowing young people to create movies that speak about the current challenges they face.
Snapshot Mobile Cinema was among six companies in Africa which received social enterprise funding from the MTV Stay Alive Foundation.
Mr Mvotho said it was not the first time he had received funding from the MTV organisation as they had funded him from 2007 until 2010.
However, he said, lack of funding and support were some of the factors that had forced him to close down the company in 2011 and 2012, having faced an uphill battle to cover the daily operational costs of the business.
He added that when the company was launched, it had been registered as a non-profit organisation meaning that he constantly had to acquire funding from different donors to keep the doors of his company open. His efforts, however, had been futile.
Despite battling with countless challenges, he said, he always knew that he needed to revive his business and in 2013 he made brave decision to re-open the business, having to fork out a chunk of money from his own pocket to cover his running costs and the costs of screening movies in the townships.
He expressed his sincere gratitude to the donors, saying that the funding would play an essential role in unearthing new film-makers in the townships and it would rekindle their passion to continue making films.
“My company was the only company from South Africa that had received the funding, along with others from Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Rwanda and Malawi. To some people visiting a cinema and watching movies is a luxury, but to many people it is only a dream to visit cinemas.
“I also wanted people to support local film-makers in their areas and buy their work, and to encourage film-makers to produce content that is appealing to the youth and share their skills among each other.
“The funding that we have received is for a period of a year and from now on we will be charging people a reasonable price when they come to our events. This will create a sort of an incentive for the films creators as well,” he said.