Ten Kenyans to get millions of shillings in YouTube creators’ class

Agatha Nkirote

Youtuber Gatha Nkirote hosts a channel that focuses on home improvement, DIY projects, entrepreneurship ideas and shopping haul. She is among those selected to benefit from a $100 million fund. 

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media group

Ten Kenyans are among 40 content creators from three African countries selected to join YouTube’s Black Voices class of 2023. 

This will see them benefit from a $100 million fund. The other two countries are Nigeria and South Africa.

In a gathering attended by creatives from across Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, YouTube announced the expansion efforts to support creators and the creative economy in the three countries.

Drawn from a pool of diverse fields, the Kenyan channels making part of this year’s cohort are Ruthless Focus, Agatha Nkatha, African Real Estate, Suzy’s Homestead, Kenyan Entrepreneur, Diy with Jojo, Wongel Zelalem, Kane’s Kitchen Affair, ONR-Olive Nkirote, and Kate Kendy.

The 40 creators will be part of the 135 YouTube Black Voices creators selected globally who are enrolled in the cohort. Also selected to join the 2023 YouTube Black Voices songwriters and producers globally is Nairobi-based producer, Ukweli.

As support from YouTube, the grantees will receive seed funding ranging between $20,000 and $50,000 (Sh2.4 million to Sh6.1 million). This amount, a representative from YouTube said, will be determined by the maturity of the platform, channel size, and engagements.

“They will also get an opportunity to work closely with YouTube as each one of them will be linked up with a partner manager to guide and mentor them. To add to that, the creatives will form part of a community that will enable them to network and access opportunities and workshops organised by YouTube or its partners,” said Zeph Masote, the YouTube lead for Southern Africa and in charge of the creator’s ecosystem in the region.

In the previous two years, only four Kenyan creatives made it to the list of each cohort. However, there has been a 60 per cent increase this year, which Mr Masote attributes to the growing market in Kenya.

“I am amazed by what is coming from Africa and emboldened by the last two classes. Some of the past participants, such as Mandi Sarro from Kenya, have gone ahead to create a recipe book and a business out of the seed funding and mentorship received,” he said.

“Some of the rural creatives from Nigeria, The Critics, are now working with American actor Morgan Freeman. We are equipping creatives with tools to thrive beyond the fund.”

According to 2022 statistics from YouTube, the percentage of YouTube channels making more than Sh1 million in revenue is 60 per cent more than in 2021.

By 2022, six channels had over one million subscribers and one channel had over one billion views.

The statistics also show that more 400 channels have 100,000 subscribers, an increase of over 70 per cent year over year. Also, over 45 per cent of watch time on content produced by channels in Kenya comes from outside the country.

How it all began

In 2020, the video-sharing platform unveiled a multi-year $100 million fund dedicated to amplifying black voices and helping creatives build a career beyond YouTube.

“The Black Voices is an initiative under YouTube Black. The fund was born out of a black creators’ summit in 2016. It was seen as a vehicle to elevate, give voice, and help content creators craft successful careers, not just for themselves but also for other people in their countries. Although the programme is currently predominant in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa we are constantly evolving, evaluating the growth of the programme, and looking for ways to expand beyond the three countries,” said the YouTube spokesperson.

Miss mandi

Mandi Sarro, popularly known as Miss Mandi, is a media personality, digital content creator, food stylist and an author. She is among those selected to benefit from a $100 million fund. 

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

To bridge the gap between the ability to make video and access, Mr Masote shared that Google is creating initiatives such as the Equiano subsea cable, which will help to close the access gap in terms of the internet.

When YouTube was launched in 2005, it started as a short-form video. The first video published on the platform by YouTube’s co-founder Jawed Karim on April 23, 2005, was just 53 seconds long. As the platform continued to evolve, YouTube videos kept getting longer.

Now, to edge out competition from platforms such as TikTok, YouTube is making it easier to create content on the go.

“We have a predominantly growth of Gen Z and Millennials who are mobile-first. YouTube Shorts was born last year with that in mind and come next year, creatives will be able to monetise on YouTube Shorts. Basically, we are multi-faceted and make a home for everyone, whether they want to create short or long-form content,” said Mr Masote.
The 10 Kenyan creators

Ruthless Focus: 38.1K subscribers, 2.63 million views – The channel is run by Caleb Orem, a Mombasa-based entrepreneur. He does car reviews and offers advice on car models and diagnostics.

African Real Estate: 26.5K subscribers, 3.2 million views – Hosted by self-acclaimed real estate expert Martin Kihara, the channel looks into the most opulent real estate and does property reviews.

Agatha Nkirote: 47.8K subscribers, 2.9 million views – The channel, hosted by Agatha, focuses on home improvement, DIY projects, entrepreneurship ideas, and shopping haul.

Suzy’s Homestead: 99.7k subscribers, 8.4 million views – Susan Muriithi offers tips on managing a home, raising children, minimising costs, and maintaining an organised and clean home.

The Kenyan Entrepreneur: 11.8k subscribers, 700k views – The channel by Sebastian Ngida is a platform that offers different services such as product, business reviews, real estate, and profile interviews.

Diy with Jojo: 31.5k subscribers, 1.6 million views – Joined in 2019, Joanne Wanjala, known as “Jojo” shares about her DIY projects, home décor hauls, ideas and how-to tutorials.

Wongel Zelalem: 53.5K subscribers, 5.1 million views – The 29-year-old Wongel’s channel tells stories from Africa and shares reaction videos from politicians and leaders from across the globe. She also shares life lessons on the platform.

Kane’s Kitchen Affair: 12.9K subscribers, 456k views – Hosted by 25-year-old lawyer-turned-food-blogger Juliet Kane, the channel is about food recipes, how-to tutorials, and travel.

ONR: 19.2K subscribers, 774K views – Olive Nkirote started the channel in 2018 as an entertainment channel then pivoted in 2020 to inform, educate, and empower her viewers with information about cryptocurrency.

Kate Kendy: 31.8K subscribers, 3.4million views – The 27-year-old Kate Kendy’s channel is about food, travel, mental health, hidden gems in different locations, and conversations with her mother.


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