Alchemist, Hustlesasa bag Sh12 million grant for creatives

Stephanie Gogo

Hustlesasa Head of Community Stephanie Gogo speaking at press launch of 'Passions to Profit' incubator at the Alchemist on May 16, 2023.

Photo credit: Pool

The Alchemist Bar, in partnership with Hustlesasa, have received a Sh12 million grant from the Ignite Culture program to launch a nine-month digital incubator for Kenyan creatives, the two announced earlier this week.

The project, dubbed ‘Turning Passions into Livelihoods’, aims to take 1,000 creatives through immersive business and marketing masterclasses facilitated by different industry experts such as Artists Rights Africa, Olivia Ambani and Tetu Shani, by December 2023.

The Alchemist bar that will host the project’s in-person events has in the recent past made headlines over racial discrimination allegations that led to the temporary closure of the popular Westlands joint in May 2022 as the Nairobi County Government investigated the matter. 

Since its reopening late last year, the club has turned over a new leaf with less complaints about the establishment, hosting concerts and events such as Bensoul’s recent album release, the Lion of Sudah

Hustlesasa Head of Community Stephanie Gogo says that the two businesses have worked together to support the creative economy through funding of creatives such as event organisers and masterclasses that help them build their businesses. Both the Alchemist and Hustlesasa are owned by entrepreneur Peng Chen.

“The purpose of this project is to support creatives who want to make money from doing what they love. We are creating a safe space for creatives to learn skills and create networks that will serve them,” Stephanie said.

Some of the topics to be covered include financial literacy, budgeting, community building, integrated marketing communications, mental health and the future of art such as cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The project hopes to attract a broad range of creator types such as musicians; dancers; photographers; event organisers; writers; chefs; and beauty, haircare and skincare specialists.

“The programme is nationwide, so we will be taking applicants from all over the country as most of the training will be online. The application form is on Hustlesasa’s social media platforms and will close by May 30,” she adds. 

After the training, she says that participants will spend two weeks getting onboarded onto the Hustlesasa mobile app. This will help participants to learn how to use the platform’s features to successfully manage their businesses online. This also includes receiving graphic design and product photography support to build professional websites they can use to sell to their audiences.

Hustlesasa already hosts different businesses and artists such as Sauti Sol, Fena Gitu, Gondwana, Jaba Nation, Tricia’s Naturals and Passport Experience by Fully Focus.

“In December 2023, there will be a grand showcase where the public will get to interact with 100 of the participants’ brands and enjoy a live concert featuring a number of local musical acts,” Stephanie said.

The Alchemist and Hustlesasa are part of the second cohort to receive funding through the ACP-EU Ignite Culture program which aims to promote cultural and creative industries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP) regions through providing financial and technical support to the creative economy.

Buni Media, National Museum of Kenya, Kenya Cultural Centre, Santuri East Africa, Jukwaa Arts Productions, Uweza Foundation and Brush Tu Art Studio are some of the other Kenyan beneficiaries of the program.