Update from the field: Hera and her people

If you pass by the AKE studio at GESCI these days you will not be able to ignore the energy in the air.  The working space is full of ideas, materials and people busy developing details, characters, stories and in fact a whole world.


AKE participants are exploring, through a mythical fantasy story,  the important role women play in society. So far we know that there will be a super heroine called Hera, and that she is commited to, and loved by her people the Nangwe community. She will embark on a journey to challenge poverty, with the help of friends and mentors and will hopefully challenged us to understand what roles we have in making this a better and more just world.


AKE participants will develop the story of Hera both as a short film and a game. We are looking forward to the 2nd of December, when the film and game should be ready! We will be sharing some developments as the team advences and welcome ideas and imput from friends of AKE.



Participant Interview – Artari kreations

Artari kreations is one of the several media ventures under development by AKE participants right now. They describe themselves as a techno-artistic company that specializes in music production, sound design, animation, web design and mobile development who are harnessing all the learning and skills they have been developing during AKE program. The team behind Artari hope they can have a full fledged startup by December as they have already started doing projects and have received many requests for their services. We spoke with Maurice Makau and Wilson Andika, 2 of the members of the team, who shared with us some thoughts on Artari and their story so far.

Q: Your venture seems to be precisely at the essence of the GESCI-AKE programme, could we ask you to tell us about your experiences? How the Artari Creations came to be?

A: We are glad about the compliments you raised over the existence of our small venture that is yet to grow. The set up for Artari Kreations was drafted on February, early this year. We wanted our venture to address challenges in four artistic areas: music design & production, animation & motion graphics, web design & application development and finally graphic design & illustration. After realizing that we had among ourselves what we needed, the real formation came to be. The team came together during the first stages of the AKE up-skilling face when we started doing things to prove that it could work and that we could deliver the right things to the first clients we encountered. It’s a good experience having this venture, although there exists a few challenges here and there. For a start we are good to go.


Members of Artari Kreations with other fellow participants of AKE2016 during a showcase event completing the AKE skilling phase at the GESCI Office in Nairobi (Image by GESCI)

Q: What are the most pressing issues now? Where are you putting effort these days?

A: Artari Kreation is just in its genesis phase, we should grow and develop. Like any other business, marketing and sourcing for clients is an inescapable hurdle. Fortunately the challenge gradient has been less steep for us because of the strong network and friends of the team members. Also, we believe we have an interesting mix of multidisciplinary thinking in our team. This allow us to come up with productive and commercially feasible ideas that can easily make sense to our clients and that we can sell.

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An interactive visualization of the skills of Artari team made for their website. (Image by Artari Kreations)

 Q: How are you getting the word about Artari out there?

We already have our website launched (artarikreations.co.ke) and are now busy working in a couple of job requests. We have developed a strong social social media presence on networks like Facebook , we created a youtube channel, and constantly work to fine tune things like google search. We are working under the concept of ”artari creative brothers”.

We are still exploring more mechanisms of instilling more marketing features into our branding system at the same time that we try to utilize all the already available resources and information.

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Artari team members at work, creating!

Q: What is the most pressing issue for the future of Artari?

Improvement and quality! It is our dream and desire both for the whole AKE program (and your research), and also our clients and our business as well.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.52.38Artari creations is a joint creative effort of: Francis Ndambuki, Maurice Makau, Wilson Andika, Pharis Mukui and Kennedy Njeri Wangombe

They are joined by Chela Nancy and Edna Taabu as special guests.


It seems AKE program is managing to provide an inspiring place where like-minded and complimentary skills meet to learn, try out things and help each other.

The Question of the Week: With Whom Will You Collaborate?

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 1.41.39 PMThank you…

…for your responses to the last week’s Question about your future clients. It seems that your client base will be either national (most likely) or local and international companies. This is important information already at this stage because different organizations have different needs as clients. They have different resources to hire you, and different ways of working.

So, looking forward, it’s good for all of us to keep all that in mind.





An equally important question:

Who Will You Work With? Who Will Be Your Partners, Collaborators and, possibly, Employees?

Please answer the Question of the Week below.

You can choose more than one option:



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Collaborating in the AKE Policy Workshop in 2015.


Live Blog: AKE Policy Forum

AKE Policy Forum:

Linking new skills, business opportunity, and job creation for cultural industry development in Africa

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[Nairobi, 9th March 2015]

Session 1_9-930: Introduction to AKE

Jerome: GESCI’s  major remit – to enhance learning with a strategic take on ICTs. We now work with leadership development in several levels – from government leaders and officials to schools, as well as with practitioners. We facilitate futures thinking, new leadership mindsets, understanding of the role of ICT creativity and innovation, advancing need for collaboration.

The world has never been more ready to facilitate and monetize innovation than at this very moment! We want living partnerships that will result in job creation. Creative industries are central to so many fields. We need the spread of creativity throughout different fields — and increasing demand for cultural content and services. Africa with its rich cultural diversity has a potential to grow exponentially, locally and globally.

Elaine: Introducing the AKE team and the training process with a video! Simon: Showcasing the artifacts!

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Session 2_930-10: LL Research & Model

From static to flexible research!

3 contextual issues

  1. universal/specific issue;
  2. everyone’s a researcher; and
  3. the journey continues to understand the new markets and to create new models.

It will never end –but let’s take the next step, take the hybrid model to the next level together TODAY.

Breakout sessions: Innovation, Leadership, Local/Global

Leadership (learning fromScreen Shot 2015-03-09 at 4.41.43 AM rhinos, hippos, wild beasts, leopards, zebras, )

Some key words and phrases:

Collaboration that necessity brings, storytelling that empowers, stories that are authentic, different forms of leadership (leadership wScreen Shot 2015-03-09 at 4.48.18 AMithin, not in front), but a leader needs many skills: academic, creative, moral leadership, talent as a tool for societal change – that’s leadership too = leader doesn’t mean dictatorship, black/white division is over, leadership means can also mean changing your environment = communication (music, photographs, etc.) as a tool, leadership = giving hope, “we lead every single day even if we don’t know it”, expertise comes form experience, leadership in education = dynamic, engaging, applicable, understanding the needs and TALENTS of others, collective vision, long-term vision.

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Breakout sessions: Local and Global (summary by Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa, Esq.)

Although Kenya has general legal protections in place, there remain gaps with respect to a solid intellectual property rights policy, general awareness among policy makers of the issues, enforceability of existing laws and the cost to time prohibitions of legal enforcement.
The following needs were identified:
  • Increased skills for creatives to help them move for ideas to viable and scalable businesses that respond to market demands. Although a variety of hubs exist, they do not yet provide full ecosystem support to innovators (mentorship should be included).
  • There needs to be more research on the opportunities for innovators, what is needed to create an enabling environment etc.
  • Innovators need to focus on improving the quality of their products, i.e. products need to align with global standards.  Perhaps a scorecard needs to be created to help guide them.
  • The government (through embassies and otherwise) needs to better market opportunities in Kenya as well as Kenyan innovators.
  • A culture of collaboration versus competition needs to be fostered.
  • There was also the view that legal should not stifle creativity.
The question was reframed as: how to take local productions global and local skills to be competitive globally (so as to create the demand for the global to identify Kenya as a place to invest in the creative industries).
Afternoon session: Content and Sustainability – Panel together with breakout sessions
  • Content needs to driven by market needs.
  • Edu content needs to address soft skills.
  • Access the work and opportunities that are non-traditional.
  • Huge demand and low supply for local content because of funding. This is the best time to be a producer in Kenya due to new business models.
  • If we don’t tell our story someone else will tell it — and go away with the money.
  • Sustainability should be linked to quality and relevance.

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  • Innovation ecosystem: lack of innovation in education. This is the result of a need – 50 years ago we needed infrastructure. If we understand this we can put today’s situation into context.
  • We need to question the business models that rely on the government. We need to have a conversation around the business models. And then we can go to the government and share our specific needs.
  • Government and the private sectors could be implementors.
  • Cooperation and changing mindsets; e.g., around intellectual property.
  • Disconnect with culture. When we talk about culture, hopefully we are not excluding all experiences in this country.
  • Include the world  – don’t narrow your opportunities down.
  • We could produce for the world, but we can do it here! Through that, we can introduce our culture to the rest of the world.
  • Leadership: Don’t be afraid of investigating, questioning, investigating.
  • So much interest in authentic storytelling and serving the under-serviced. Bias against leadership.
  • Group setting and leading with examples – people relate with that.
  • It’s not about mass, it’s about niche markets. It’s about quality. We need to understand the market — we can’t change the market.
  • But: we need international standards. Is training responding to that?
  • Should we have a score card to assess standards?
  • Do we really know what the market needs?
  • Expertise and specialization – open collaborations. We need to support one another, e.g., establish industry groups.
  • Access is still a challenge – they need it in the rural areas.
  • With innovations come unexpected results.
  • How do you avoid stigmatization.
  • How can we extent innovation education to schools? How can we influence the curriculum? E.g., the success in resulting entrepreneurial education.

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  • Do we really need more $ or should we apply the idea of the lean start-up, with the need to proof the content and concept!
  • How can we share and not just repeat these conversations again and again in different forums? – Perhaps a platform to match up corporate social responsibility programs and artists?
  • The challenge for creatives – where do we sell our products? Do we need  to create and ‘manage’ our own platforms? And do our own market research — let’s our create our own economy.
  • We need to encourage artists to understand the market and $ – they will also create better products.
  • Yet, innovation drives consumption. Marketing and product push is essential.
  • The quicker you share, partner re: your product, the better.


  • Tremendous potential. And no better time to create the innovation ecosystem than now.
  • What needs to come to play: leadership, quality.
  • Practitioners need to also think what they need. They need to be comfortable with who they are, and with their skills, to succeed.
  • Edu sector needs to respond.
  • We are not educating for Kenya only — we need to educate for the world.
  • Opportunities abound – how do we take advantages of them?
  • Some solutions: Industry standards, work together, have support networks. Hybrid models, different models, a different combination of models.
  • A balance between sharing and protecting  one’s products
  • Some flexibility with governances.
  • Policy Forums as accelerators – how do we take these take-aways further?

TSoTC Questionnaire on Collaboration: TOP 5 Insights

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.56.18 AMIn December 2015 we asked from TSoTC practitioners, instructors, and other GESCI participants about their views on good collaborative project design, practices and experiences (you can see the questions here).

Here are the Top 5 most important insights from your project collaboration, innovation, and learning experiences:

  1. Leadership is the key. No matter how many brilliant experts from many fields take part in the project, without clear joint goals and strong, precise leadership to guide the road to the goals, collaboration will be difficult. Promises and timelines need to be met, by everyone, and this needs to be coordinated and managed. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include some leadership training for all?]
  2. Brainstorming is important — and it takes time. Innovation with other experts from different fields requires time to find common ground, vocabulary, and ways of working. Free exchange of ideas is clearly desirable and beneficial to innovative processes. Feedback and (peer) critique is also an essential part of learning — and project innovation. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include some structured scenario/brainstorming workshops, just to get everyone used to related working methods? Should there be special ‘idle time’ allocated to taking, exchanging experiences, informally creating wild ideas…]
  3. Networking builds team spirit, and extends the benefits of training. Related to point 2: A major advantage of a Living Lab -type of educational-innovation project is that it can teach not only skills but build alliances and partnerships beyond the training/project itself. Clearly, connecting learning with a real life projects and businesses is considered a great benefit. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include networking events such as a Demo Day / Showcase as a standard part of their curricula?]
  4. Everyone needs marketing skills. Related to point 3: Some participants of TSoTC highlight the reality that today’s innovation professionals need to understand business skills and be able to market their talent and projects. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include some marketing training for all? Should an LL environment also include end users as participants — to enhance product development and marketing strategies?]
  5. Collaboration honors the individual. Finally, an overall theme emerging from the questionnaire is that participants appreciate both individual guidance/projects/mentoring as well as the collaborative effort. The former should not be forgotten because of the latter. The combination of individual mentoring/attention and collaborative practices might be especially important for a Living Lab environment that aims to innovate, as well as to educate.

What would you add to the list?


Welcome to the research section of The Sound of the City!

This blog is intended as a “working diary” for the “Making Of… The Sound of the City”  Here, we want to document the innovation and learning process towards the final product. Therefore, everyone involved in the project is a key contributor here. And that is why every thought, observation, vision, opinion, experience is relevant and important. This is a platform for everyone, so while the “curators” of this blog sometimes post questions for you, please feel also free to initiate topics and discussions. Everyone directly involved with The Sound of the City will get administrator access to it. Also, please feel free to share, comment, question, describe “The Making of…” in any way you want: Short comments, long essays, images, video, sound… To get us started, let’s do a round of introductions. Please tell everyone who you are, what your role is in TSoTC, and what your main expectation about the project is. Please post your intro below. The format is free — the floor is yours.