During the Semi-final Assessment a panel of mentors selected to guide the 25 Incubation participants came together to assess the progress made over the 9 week period. The 9 weeks included 8 weeks of intense mentoring, classes and remote sessions from our partners Fashion Foundry, as well as a 1-week work experience opportunity to help the participants have a better grasp of the key concepts surrounding the launching and running of a successful fashion enterprise. The 25 would now pitch their business ideas and prospects to the mentors who would assess their viability for success and funding. After an 8 hour period where a variety of brands were showcased the final 10 were selected based on criteria such as the strength of their financial projections, scalability, value proposition and understanding on their target audience to state a few. Upon selection, the final 10 would take the suggestions given to them by the panel to fortify their final pitches.
On the day the 10 finalists arrived at the venue, of the British Council Ikoyi, Lagos office with models, mannequins, racks and a mindset to wow the judges and audience members, but most importantly convince them of why they more than the others deserved the awards. On this day the 10 would be vying for a £2000 award funding (N950,000) to kickstart their businesses. On the other end Who better than a panel consisting of Yoanna ‘pepper’ Chikezie, Founder, The Assembly Hub, the (NICE) program delivery partner and organisation dedicated to creating resources to aid Fashion entrepreneurs build sustainable enterprises, Eugene Meyer, Founder, Flance Creative Directors an independent Design Studio located in South Africa, as well as Lucy Pearson, Country Director, British Council in Nigeria and
The pitches ran for roughly 2 hours showcasing a variety of innovative Fashion businesses making strides with designs tailored to provide elegant options for plus-sized women, alternative pieces in menswear, next generation fabrics for your casual wardrobe, as well as unique footwear options for those always looking to step out in style. These were just a few of what the brands had to offer on the day further making it a difficult shoot narrow down the top 5 to be awarded £2000 each.
As part of the British Council’s mission to empower emerging creatives in Nigeria, the NICE Support Programme also featured a Film path that saw entrepreneurs passionate about Nigeria’s Film industry proffer solutions to the gaps they felt were being ignored. These participants also had a pitch section which took place after the Fashion finalists. After both path’s had been given the opportunity to showcase their top 10 attendees where ushered into the garden where the top 5 would be awarded their cash prizes. In a relaxed environment that brought together industry stakeholders from both paths, the Hub Managers that went on the UK tour, Faculty members from the programme and facilitators alike , the winners where announced. In addition to this, the British Council was so gracious as to add on 2 more cash prizes worth £1000 each.
Fashion Entrepreneurs from the NICE Support Programme
After deliberation It was a Dickson Ibaranyanakaye, Creative Director of FiDi, Samiat Abimbola Are, Creative Director of Green July, Olabisi Okesalako Emmanuel , Creative Director of I and O clothing, Barakat Aramide Alabi, Creative Director of Ara’s Handmade Designs and Fashanu Ojekide Clement, Creative Director of Ojekide who emerged as the top 5 Fashion Entrepreneurs of the NICE Support Programme. As promised by the British council Toochi Ugoala, Creative director of Dioha and Akinse Fela Buyi, Creative Director of SALUBATA where awarded the additional 2 cash prizes.
To say the NICE Support Programme’s finale was a success would be putting it mildly. The handwork put into the program and the reward for all the effort put in by the participants showed a glimpse of how far we’ve come and can go in our effort as a country to appreciate and empower folks who thrive in our creative industries.
Ijeonu Elisha-Wigwe with Fashion Designer , Zizi Cardow
Lucy Pearson, Country Director, British Council in Nigeria, UK Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils and Barakat Alabi, Creative Director, Ara’s Handmade Designs.
Lucy Pearson, Country Director, British Council in Nigeria, UK Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils and Samiat Are , Creative Director, Green July Studios
Lucy Pearson, Country Director, British Council in Nigeria, UK Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils and Olabisi Emmanuel, Creative Director, I and O clothing.
Words by Deji Haastrup
Image Credit: Olumide Onafuwa
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