Kenyan rapper Muthoni Ndonga, alias Muthoni the Drummer Queen (MDQ), among creatives shortlisted for a Sh22 million grant from Ignite Culture, an ACP EU Culture Programme (East Africa).
The cultural entrepreneur is among eight Kenyans whose creative businesses were shortlisted to receive the grant facility for the support of creative and cultural industries in 14 Eastern Africa countries.
The founder and sole proprietor of the once famous Blankets and Wines event, was among 379 applicants who applied for the grant.
Having launched its inaugural call for applications in August 2021, the ACP-EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) invited creative talents with registered and operational businesses in Burundi, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda to apply for grants of up to a maximum of 180,000 euro per application (Sh21.59 million).
The fund targeted 20 businesses to award a total of 2.5 million euro (Sh300 million).
Between 11th August and 15th September 2021, the fund received and reviewed a total of 379 applications from 11 of the 14 eligible countries.
The Majority of applications were received from Kenya (134), Uganda (58), and Rwanda (53) respectively.
The total funding requests from the 379 applications amounted to over 38.6 million euro (Sh4.6 billion).
Speaking on Ignite Culture facility, an initiative of HEVA Fund LLP and the British Council financed by the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU), Wakiuru Njuguna, Partner and Investment Manager at HEVA termed the funding as an outreach programme for the creative.
“This project has contributed to the strategic goal of extending our services across the Eastern Africa region, in line with our 2018-2022 strategic goals. Our outreach and commitment to the culture and creative sector includes financial investments, knowledge development as well as capacity building, skill development, and market development. The Ignite Culture Fund will be fundamental to the growth of the overall sector in our region,” she noted.
Of the eligible creative and cultural industry value chains, most applications came from three subsectors; performance, events and celebrations, Audio visual and interactive media and Creative and cultural education.
All applicants were subjected to a rigorous six step process. The selection process included two review panels, pitch meetings, due diligence, and finally a financial and capacity assessment.
Successful applicants were shortlisted, invited to review and execute their grant contracts, and are currently in the final stage.
Jill Coates, British Council Kenya Country Director noted the overwhelming applications pointed out the richness of creativity talent in East Africa that needs support.
“The incredible response we received from across East Africa has demonstrated the wealth of creative talent and ideas present across the region. The whole team has been amazed, not only by the number of applications we received, but also the sheer quality of those applications. The applications were very competitive and we were convinced of the capacity and abilities of the final successful applications”
MDQ also runs her entertainment platform perFORM thatfocuses on music, performance and education training, craft development, skill upgrade, and music business training.
Other Kenyan creative businesses shortlisted for the grant include; Za Kikwetu Productions Ltd is an audio-visual production house in Nairobi, whose proposal focuses on cultural heritage and podcasting.
Avandu Vosi Studio is a group of artists who tell stories through comics, illustrations and animations. Their proposal focuses on heritage and the publication of a comic book.
Saba Studios is a design lab and manufacturer of indoor and outdoor furniture, inspired by the rich history of Swahili furniture and culture. Their proposed use of funds is for craftsperson education and professional development.
Bomas of Kenya is a state agency that works to preserve, maintain, educate and promote the diverse cultures of various ethnic groups in Kenya. Through the Ignite Culture grant, they plan to put together a collection and interactive showcase of indigenous music.
BlackRhino VR is a virtual reality production company that develops online content through the power of virtual reality technology. They plan to focus on an augmented reality platform.
Standup Collective is a growing comedy club culture in Kenya, in order to create a community of comedians and comedy lovers. Through the Ignite Culture grant, they plan to run a series of stand-up comedy workshops and showcases, as well as further network development.