How one creator turns her passion for African dance into a global business
Dance has been a part of Kukuwa Kyereboah’s life as far back as she can remember. Born in Ghana, some of Kukuwa’s earliest memories are of her great-grandmother performing traditional African dances while drums thumped loudly in the background. She learned early on that dance was more than just movement – it was a way to express yourself, to create community and to honor shared culture and tradition. Now 63, Kukuwa recalls how girls in her town would learn to dance even before they could run and boys would beat on drums before they could talk. “Dance was something that was necessary and very important within our culture growing up, and I wanted that to always be part of my life,” Kukuwa said.
In the 1980s, Kukuwa moved to the United States to further a career in international relations, but never abandoned her love for dance. She released a series of dance fitness DVDs and eventually opened up a dance studio in Washington, DC, where she would help others get fit while teaching them about her African roots. It was a hit. Over the next several decades, she opened up two additional studios, expanded her footprint to three states and hired dozens of trained instructors. Business was thriving.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, she was forced to shut down all of her studios and find a way to rethink her business model if the brand was to survive — so she turned to YouTube. Kukuwa had first joined YouTube in 2015 after her daughter introduced her to the platform and suggested she start posting videos. Though she posted occasionally, with doors literally closed, Kukuwa decided to go all in on creating content for her channel on a regular basis. She began offering free sessions through YouTube Live and sharing routines on her channel that fans could pull up at their convenience.
The results she saw from shifting her business model to YouTube were beyond her wildest expectations. Kukuwa said her subscribers quickly grew from 100,000 to 300,000 – with fans coming from Australia, the United States, Brazil and beyond. She has seen a direct increase in revenue generated through ads on her channel. Additionally, her growing global fanbase has allowed her to adopt a “pop-up style” for her business instead of a brick and mortar model – doing pop-up classes on domestic and international tours.
While Kukuwa is thrilled to see her revenue growth, she says the real joy comes from spreading her love for dance and her culture with the world. “Dancing has brought so much joy to my life and I always knew I wanted to share that with others, but I never imagined I could reach so many people or have the kind of impact we have had through YouTube,” she added.
Dancing has brought so much joy to my life and I always knew I wanted to share that with others, but I never imagined I could reach so many people or have the kind of impact we have had through YouTube.” Kukuwa Kyereboah
The success of Kukuwa’s channel has also allowed her to give back in ways she couldn’t have imagined would be possible. The growth in her business and global audience has allowed her to invest more into her non-profit, Africa With Us Foundation, which provides school supplies, food and infrastructure to villages and towns across Africa.
Kukuwa’s story highlights what YouTube is all about: giving people a platform to share their voice and hopefully making the world a little better — one video at a time.