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HAUS KCH is a community-led and community-powered project that revitalises abandoned buildings into creative and community launchpads. The project features events, workshops and initiatives coordinated by an in-house team and also various Community Partners. The name HAUS stands for Harmonise, Accelerate, Unite, Sustain. We seek to Harmonise the aspirations of those with a greater vision for the local community; Accelerate the progress of local talents through collaboration; Unite individuals from different backgrounds; and take steps to ensure that we Sustain our efforts over time. KCH refers to Kuching City.

HAUS KCH is also one of five startups currently under TEGAS Startup Lab – A one-year structured incubation programme that aims to equip local Borneo Sarawak entrepreneurs with the tools to sustain and accelerate their business growth and is one of the key programmes in the Sarawak Digital Village Ecosystem.

The start-ups are mentored by seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts such as Brian Tan, Co-founder of FutureLab.my, Sam Shafie, Co-founder of pitchIN, Nurfarini Daing, CEO of Youth Trust Foundation, Sinan Ismail, CEO of Digital Durian, Hazwan Razak, Head of Digital Village, SMA to name a few, covering topics such as strategy, finance, operations, talent management, marketing, branding, intellectual property (IP) and fundraising.

HAUS KCH’s mission is to expand beyond Kuching and establish HAUS is different cities throughout Sarawak and even Malaysia. Pioneered by a group of young people who share a vision of creating a one-stop centre where the local arts and culture community can congregate, collaborate and grow.
According to co-founder Syed Rusydie Syed Habib, 27, how all this came about was quite serendipitous. “We came upon the opportunity to use this space through the son of the developer that owns the building. He was in contact with another co-founder, Nazreen Mohamad, and they were talking about how to make Kuching better. So Nazreen approached me with the idea of making a community centre, while I was interested in developing the arts side. “We talked about what Kuching is lacking, which is basically a one-stop centre for all these activities. I pitched the idea of having all these different artistic backgrounds in one space, with the prospect of international collaboration and producing unique content, and we decided to go ahead with that,” he said.
Since its inception, HAUS has brought in various creative groups and individuals from different areas of arts, including visual arts, photography, music, parkour, skateboarding, 3D printing, woodworking and literature. The space is also used for performances, workshops and other community events, while a soft launch was held in December to showcase the project and raise funds. “We want to provide a focal point for all these artistic things to gather, a single point for collaboration to disperse from,” Syed Rusydie said.
Nazreen added that the space was also a centre for the public to visit and be surrounded by creativity. “This place is supposed to be an addition to a lot of things in Kuching. All these groups were already doing what they do elsewhere, so we’re putting them in one place here where things can grow faster and people can meet and collaborate easier.
Besides providing a common space for artists and the like, HAUS also aims to equip them with business and financial skills to help them sustain their creativity. “Back in the day we used to think that you’re an artist only if you’re suffering. This doesn’t have to be the case anymore. You can be an artist and make a sustainable income. That’s what we’re trying to pursue here as well,” Ashweein Narayanan, another co-founder said.
Co-Founder John-Paul Davis chipped in, “It can be something as simple as teaching them how to write a quotation or run with a proper business model.” Nazreen explained, “We want to provide access to people who want to really do art. As far as the people in this building are concerned, they will grow a lot faster when they’re here. One, because they’re connected to each other and the other is that we’re going to make sure they learn to sustain what they do. “Maybe they’re not great at marketing or finance, we want to give them the opportunity to improve because when they do so, it’s not just for themselves but they will enrich the city and inspire others to do the same. You cannot measure this using statistics but I’m sure the city will improve if these people grow.”

This desire to boost Sarawak’s arts and culture scene by providing support and nurturing is what drives the HAUS project. “Art and creativity are the soul of a city. If you let people delve solely into their mobile devices I think we lose something,” John-Paul said.

Ashweein noted that the state government had been talking about turning Kuching into an arts and culture hub. “On top of tourism and travel, arts and culture are another boost that is very much required, so there could not have been a better time for us to start this initiative.” Syed Rusydie added, “Having said that, we didn’t start because of that. It just so happened that it complements current events.” Nazreen described the project as a “grassroots experiment” to coordinate what artists and creative individuals could do. “It’s also something that’s personal to myself and Rusydie. If we don’t do this, people who are really talented will go off to Kuala Lumpur or outside Malaysia. People who could have realised their potential won’t have the opportunity, so it’s about that as well. We have really talented people in Sarawak, we have to give them the opportunity.

HAUS KCH has successfully collaborated with artists in the space to create unique content and continue to do so to further realise their vision. By the end of their tenancy in the building, the HAUS team hopes that the artists in the space can become self-sufficient and independent in their activities. And their ambition doesn’t stop there. “We’re looking to inspire people to start their own HAUS model in different cities.

Over time we’ll be compiling a guidebook on how to get this going from scratch,” Syed Rusydie said.

You can check out HAUS KCH’s Facebook Page here or check out their website at www.hauskch.com or more startup sarawak news here