Sparking Creativity

In early 2020 the Social Enterprise Academy Zambia ran a 5-day Starting Your Creative Enterprise programme for creatives in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia.

The programme was in partnership with the British Council’s Southern African Arts programmes and had the bold goal to help 100  young people kickstart their journey of turning their craft and talent to earn a  viable enterprise, contributing to the Creative Economy.

Recently, there has been more interest in the role that cultural and creative industries play in developing economies - both in terms of their economic contribution but also in connection with social change and cultural engagement.  A study by the World Economic Forum found that globally, creative industries contribute  $2,250 billion in revenues (3% of world GDP). In Africa and the Middle East, this amounts to $58 billion in revenues and approximately 2.4 million jobs. The Creative Economy promises great opportunity, especially in Southern Africa where the many young people face underemployment and the lack of decent working conditions. According to the International Labour Office, of the 38.1 per cent estimated total working poor in sub-Saharan Africa, young people account for 23.5 percent. The  SYCE programme provided an opportunity to help young people become job creators and contribute to cultural and social impact.

The SYCE programme had a two-level multi-sept process. On level was the identification and selection of partner hubs in Blantyre, Malawi, Maputo Mozambique and Kitwe, Zambia to work co-design with.  The second level was recruiting participants for the programme and delivering the programme with to them then evaluating the delivery and running a second cycle.  Our approach in designing the toolkit to train creatives and the entire five-day curriculum was based on co-design and collaboration to ensure we met the needs of the creatives.

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The finalized curriculum had four one-day modules that covered topics such as ‘Defining your Creative offering’ ‘Addressing your Customer’, ‘Revenue Models and Pricing’ as well as Leadership.

The target audience for the SYCE programme was creatives between the ages of 18 and 35 years who had experience or a track-record selling their creative product or service.

The programme drew 69 participants from all four participating locations and had an almost even split between young men and women attending.

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There was a good mix of the types of creatives represented in the training, from visual artists (illustrators and cartoonists) to digital creatives (videographers, graphic designers and photographers) to actors and clothing designers. The graph below provides an overview of the types of creatives represented across the programmes. It shows that the top three types of creatives in participating in our programme were from the fashion and design, crafts and film and entertainment disciplines respectively.

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While over 95% of participants said they would recommend the programme to others, the key measure of success was the amount of collaboration and co-creation within cohorts and across cohorts. From one cohort deciding to organize and hold an expo to showcase their work to photographers and fashion designers collaborating and graphic designers sharing their services.

As the preparations of the second cycle of the SYCE programme began, the entire world was faced with the unprecedented occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans were placed on hold indefinitely and we began the fully engrossing work of surviving a pandemic. More recently, as we have begun to adapt to the ‘new normal’ a new fully digital version of the SYCE training has been designed with input and collaboration from the British Council and our partner hubs. The new three—week training will be rolled out in the upcoming weeks and we look forward to sparking creativity virtually and helping more young people find pathways to financial independence while contributing to the creative and cultural economies in their countries.

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