On 1st March, we embarked on the first half of our Creative Enterprise Skills Exchange by flying our small delegation of business advisors and supported creative businesses to Nairobi, Kenya. The exchange has been organised in partnership with Kenya’s HEVA Fund, and funded by The Nest (Kenya) and The British Council.

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Our five days in Nairobi began with a welcome reception at our host’s headquarters, where we were introduced to the city’s thriving creative network of entrepreneurs, musicians, jewellers and fashion designers amongst others.

Over the course of the exchange, we met with various creative business owners based in Nairobi, who have been able to achieve their ambitions through support and funding from the HEVA Fund programme.

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The exchange brought to our attention, the challenges these businesses face, particularly in the fashion and textile sector. Topics such as production, education, training and balancing the traditional African ‘tailor’ culture with the direction of contemporary fashion design were heavily discussed.

It was fantastic to learn about their achievements, visiting their retail spaces, workshops and arts centres. It highlighted how effective programmes like ours and HEVA’s can be in supporting sustainability and growth for these creative businesses.

The afternoon workshops run by our business advisors, Stuart Balmer and Remi Harris, proved hugely popular with the local creative businesses and artists. Each workshop focused on a different element of managing a creative business; from branding to setting achievable goals.

Having Ciara McGarrity (Waffle Design) and Liz Temperley (Blank Inside) share their experiences of starting and growing their business, and the support they received on the Creative Industry Finance programme, was invaluable to those who took part in the afternoon workshops.

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The first half of The Creative Enterprise Skills Exchange has been inspiring for our team, we shared but also learnt a lot in terms of the ways we can continue supporting our creative businesses here in the UK.

We hope that The HEVA Fund and the Kenyan businesses who took part, have come away feeling as equally inspired, and we look forward to continuing the exchange of ideas when we host the HEVA Fund delegation in May.