Every three months, Nairobians gather at Nairobi Stew to crowdfund for the people changing their city. At the event, four people pitch their initiative to improve Nairobi, and the audience votes for the one they think will have the most impact. Once the votes have been counted, the winner goes home with a crowdfunded microgrant. This blog series follows some of the microgrant winners to see how they have fared since.
Picture this: Hot stew served from the heart of Nairobi. A space where people come together to fill their stomachs and souls. A gathering to crowdfund projects for a better Nairobi. A wholesome experience indeed.
Nairobi Stew has been giving a platform to social enterprises in Kenya for almost 3 years now. It is a space where like-minded individuals come together with a shared vision of sustainable development in Nairobi.
Stewies (which is what we call the applicants) go through a rigorous process of vetting to determine which ventures will pitch on the day. All entrepreneurs have to pitch their idea over hot stew and chapati, a cherished Kenyan meal. They have to convince the audience why they should support their business idea, is it sustainable? Is it realistic? Does it help the community? Will it create positive change? Stewies have a tough job to convince the audience their idea is the one!
Set in Mukuru, one of Nairobi’s informal settlements, there are no recreational spaces for children. The youths are more prone to falling into crime, drug use and gender-based violence in the slums.
Anne and her team wanted to do make sure that the young have a safe space to engage in dancing, acting and acrobatics after school. She envisioned a time where children and youth in Mukuru would be fully engaged in tapping into their skills as opposed to idling their lives away, falling into vices – hence the need to engage them in arts.
In 2015, Anne decided to take action, and the Performing Arts Club was born.
“I’m grateful to Nairobi Stew, international support is dwindling, local support and resources is the way to go! Long live the Nairobi Stew!” Says Anne Muthoni who won the microgrant in 2017.
There was no adequate facility for the youth to meet and practice skills in performing arts. Anne and her team did not give up, despite the place not being conducive – especially when it rained.
In 2017, Anne saw a call to apply to pitch at the Nairobi Stew and decided to give it a try. She pitched to an eager crowd at Michael Joseph Center and won the micro-grant. The amount was not enough to build an arena but she saw this as a source of more motivation. She used the money instead to buy durable shoes that can withstand the members training in any conditions in Mukuru.
Since the Stew, they have recruited two trainers who show up every day after school. They have over 80 members who participate in paying shows. The ability to generate income has boosted the morale of the members they serve. The Performing Arts Club is attaining their goal of ensuring that youth are not idle and that they earn money. This shows the youth that the skills they have built can sustain them. Performing arts are certainly helping the community in Mukuru, giving hope to children and youth in a disadvantaged set-up.
What can you do?
If you are running an initiative that aims at creating change in Nairobi or know someone who is, apply to pitch at the next Nairobi stew here. Want to support the initiative? Attend our online edition on May 22nd, register here.