With the A-Team safely working from home, our community of creatives was our first thought so we rallied our troop of creative industry leaders to offer their time and expertise in a series of virtual consultation clinics as the first line of defense against the effects of the pandemic.
Pivoting agilely, we moved our women in export event from physical to virtual engagement in a matter of days. We asked you, our community on the affects the pandemic was having on you and your businesses and we listened. So we went on to host other relevant virtual training/learning opportunities such as; Brand Marketing & Comms During and After COVID-19, Instagram vs Reality; What Retail Innovation Means for Fashion Brands, Introduction to Supply Chain Management and our landmark speed mentoring night Level Up! 6. These courses and classes were organized to meet the needs of our community members and facilitated by our A-list network of mentors, speakers and coaches.
We successfully concluded our training incubator, the Creative Enterprise Support Programme Fashion Tech Abuja in partnership with Do It Now Now and Ventures Platform, which we began in November of 2019 with physical engagement and later phased to virtual delivery mid-2020. We are so excited for the 5 entrepreneurs emerging the winners and taking home £2,000 each in start-up grant funding.
We launched our Membership Network for Creatives to gain exclusive access to mentorship, networking, business support and resources.
Through our A-Careers, we successfully helped fashion entrepreneurs find and hire the right talent for their brands, as well as placed creatives in their preferred jobs. We established a new partnership with Jobberman that grants creatives within our community access to free soft skills training which equips them to snag the right jobs in their preferred sectors.
In April we kicked off our IG Live series, How I Got Started, a virtual series of inspirational and informal conversations that highlight the early days, achievements, challenges, and opportunities of our hosts to inspire and empower startups in the creative industry. We had the opportunity of learning from trailblazers and creative industry leaders across five African countries including Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria.
In solidarity with the #endSARS movement, we hosted a Live discussion with 2 brave, talented and perceptive photographers who were on the frontlines of the protests to document the history-making movement.
Hosted by the British Council, we facilitated 2 virtual fireside chats between Nigerian and UK fashion tech entrepreneurs to provide inspiration, knowledge and motivation to not just entrepreneurs within CESP Abuja but to others considering the fashion tech pathway, especially around business and manufacturing sustainability, brand building and business operations.
We expanded into mass manufacturing of Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) with Mask Assembly, which supported and provided health and safety garments (scrubs and face masks) to frontline health workers, as well as the distribution of free facial masks to the general public to flatten the curve. Mask Assembly also supported the #endSARS protests by providing handkerchiefs to protesters in different locations within Lagos State.
We’re excited to have been able to support the families of our artisans through the operations at Mask Assembly. Similarly, we had the opportunity to empower 74 seamstresses across 5 states in Nigeria with training on the production of 80,000 facemasks according to health and safety guidelines for distribution within the states.
Looking at 2020 in review, the year was tough but we are thankful we made significant impact in our community through our Events, Mask Assembly, A-careers, and Partnerships. We’re also grateful to our network of facilitators, partners and advisory who gave us their best through a most trying year.
Finally, we’re excited to have each other on the A-Team, we can proudly say we have the best team of dedicated, hardworking and vision minded juggernauts who never back down from a challenge and so we’re set to take on another year of marked growth and exploits with agility, focus and presence of mind.
Words by Yolanda Akinola