The Assembly Hub in partnership with the Cultural Enterprise Office – Fashion Foundry was selected by the British Council and the Foreign Commonwealth Office UK to deliver the Nigeria Creative Enterprise (NICE) Support Program 2019.
Building on the British Council’s West Africa Creative Hubs Programme that has been running from 2017, the Nigeria Creative Enterprise Support Programme for Fashion and Film hubs, supported by the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to stimulate UK – Nigeria Hub Linkages in Film and Fashion, connecting individuals and institutions in the fashion and film sectors to share, learn and collaborate in order to develop skills that lead to more professional opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs in fashion and film and more partnerships and value for the UK.
The Creative Industries in Nigeria represent a rapidly growing economic powerhouse and are increasingly being recognised as a pathway for sustainable livelihoods for young people across art forms (e.g. film, fashion).
THREE STAGES OF ENTERPRISE SUPPORT
- A two-week intensive for 50 entrepreneurs.
- A rapid (about 9 weeks) pre-incubation programme for 25 entrepreneurs providing training, business support and mentoring, access to workspace, and access to equipment within the workspace (for making, filming, editing etc.).
- Grants to 5 entrepreneurs to develop business plans, start/scale up existing fashion and film businesses in Lagos.
The expected outcomes for this programme;
- Fashion entrepreneurs in Lagos, Nigeria are supported to develop successful businesses, creating jobs and prosperity in Nigeria.
- Increased collaboration and partnerships between Nigeria and the UK on fashion, enabling greater “co-creation”
- Increased knowledge of sector networks and sector support available for enterprises in Nigeria to access.
With over 100 applications which were eventually narrowed down to 54 entrepreneurs across different sub-sectors in the fashion industry. These entrepreneurs were trained and groomed intensively on the core principles of launching and running a successful fashion enterprise.
The program kicked off with a two-week intensive module covering topics such as Draping, Figure and Fashion Drawing, Prototyping, Quality Manufacturing, Design Thinking, Financials, Branding, Legal and IP, Pitching, PR and Storytelling.
These sessions were both educative and engaging thanks largely to the amazing faculty we had on hand. Some of our esteemed facilitators included Mrs Nike Ogunlesi of Ruff ‘N’Tumble, Representatives of Fashion Foundry, Ciorstaidh Monk, Ruth Mitchell, Carolyn Edmosun, Flavia Bon and Rob Newman, Yahaya Maikori of Law Allianz, Omolola Omotoso of the Longe Practice, Munachi Alfa of Masal Consultants, Zara Odu , Ituen Bassey, Timi Tikolo of SMARTMARK, Eugene Meyer of Flance Creative Directors, Victoria Fabunmi of CC Hub , Jumoke Adekunle , Honey Ogundeyi of Fashpa, Bolaji Animashaun of The Style HQ and NURU Labs, Wale Ajiboye of Acumen, Yegwa Ukpo of Stranger Lagos, Claire Idera, Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Sam Otigba, Co-Founder of Treadler , Uche Egbuna and Crystal Chigbu of the IREDE Foundation.
The end of the two weeks intensive saw the entrepreneurs whittled down to 25 from the initial 54. The 25 proceeded to undertake another eight weeks of incubation which provided them with on-the-ground mentoring from our in- house mentors: Mrs. Nike Ogunlesi, Yoanna Chikezie, Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Claire Idera and Yegwa Ukpo, as well as remote mentoring from our partners at Fashion Foundry. This module also provided them with further training on Public Relations, Design Development, Pricing and Retail Strategy, Fashion drawing and Colour blocking, as well as coaching on presenting their business plans.
Mid-way through the incubator, the participants were afforded the opportunity to engage in a one-week work experience with various established Fashion companies. During this time the entrepreneurs got to see the various key areas that had been covered over the past month and a half up-close and personal in a very real setting. We have to say a big thank you to our amazing partners- Ruff N Tumble, Clan RTW, David Wej, Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Emmy Kasbit, Funke Adepoju, Grey Velvet Stores, Retail Republic, Mai Atafo, SMARTMARK, The Style HQ, Wana Sambo, Lisa Folawiyo, OSC School, AFA Sports, without which this important aspect of the program would not have been achieved.
During this program, we also hosted 5 Hub Managers and Creative Professionals in the UK as part of the programme. From Glasgow to London the hub mangers were presented with a diverse range of experiences while visiting inspirational spaces and forging links with cultural leaders, innovators and influential figures.The Hub Manager UK Tour had them visiting locations such as Centre for Advanced textiles, Glasgow School of Art, 50m , The Africa Centre, Peckham Palms, Fashion Enter, Design Museum, Second Home and Future Girl Corp.
The program came to an end on Saturday, the 30th of March 2019, after a tough semi-final pitch assessment where we all 25-second stage applicants pitched their business models which had made significant progress since the start of the programme. The finale saw a selection of 10 entrepreneurs who had emerged from the semifinals pitch their businesses now to an audience comprising of partners, angel investors, faculty, industry veterans and industry stakeholders with the goal of winning a grant as well as showcasing their businesses.
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.
The Pitch Finale event came to an end with Samiat Ambimbola Are of Green July Studios , Barakat Aramide of Ara’s Handmade Designs , Olabisi Emmanuel of I and O clothing , Dickson Fabiawari of FiDi and Ojekide Clement of Ojekide walking away with a grant of £2000 or roughly N950,000 to aid their business growth while Toochi Ugoala of Dioha and Akinse Fela of Salubata walked away with £1000 roughly N460,000 to do the same.
The Nigeria Creative Enterprise Program (NICE) was indeed a great experience for all participating parties as it brought the Assembly closer to its goal of equipping creative entrepreneurs with resources and a platform to bond and become as well as creating sustainable enterprises within the Fashion industry for emerging entrepreneurs. We are grateful to our partners and supporters for making this programme a resounding success.
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Words by Valerie Egbuniwe
Images by Olumide Onafuwa