7 Theses, In Their Words

Last week, we wrote about the 7 Theses of GESCI-AKE Creative Media Venture for Youth Entrepreneurship: Context matters significantly; Entrepreneurial education needs to be flexible; Everything is entrepreneurial; Both digital and physical platforms matter; Your niche is important; No success without collaboration; and Support should be ongoing.

We asked internal and external experts in the field — of creative industries, media business management, youth start-up incubation, start-up PR, and corporate innovation — what they considered as key drivers of Youth Entrepreneurship. We were thrilled to find that our theses are also theirs.

Our warmest thanks to the contributors!

Now, let us know YOUR thoughts, and theses, as a comment!

 

1. No One Solution, Or, Context Matters
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Gregory Ferrell Lowe, Professor (Media management), University of Tampere, President of the European Media Management Association:

In recent years we’ve seen growing interest in the development of entrepreneurial activities, especially in the creative industries. There are reasons. One hinges on economic growth and development that entrepreneurial activity has produced. A large proportion of new jobs that are also good jobs, and fast-growth firms, are the result of entrepreneurial enterprise. Another reason is the importance of innovation as a new product or service that create new markets. A third reason has to do with the speed, scope and stakes involved with globalised economic competition. Entrepreneurial activities capitalise on the resources and talents of a particular population that produces competitive advantage. Finally, all societies are struggling with a degree of change that is profound. As a result, heritage systems and legacy structures are unable to meet the full range of societal needs today. Entrepreneurial activities increasingly emphasise not only economic development, but also social enterprise and environmental  sustainability.  It is important to understand that all of this is not only important in the West, but equally in the Rest. Actually, it is arguably even more important in the Global South than elsewhere because their populations are growing at an astonishing pace and the infrastructure has been so lacking.

What would be most beneficial for robust development of entrepreneurial activities in the creative industries and beyond? There are specific needs for a particular population, but at least three general needs are crucial everywhere. First, the societal structure must be conducive. This simply means the system of laws, regulations and institutions that govern economic activity must encourage and support entrepreneurship in practice to reap the benefits that can only be realised by taking the risks that are necessary for starting an enterprise. That is not easy because it often means reorienting values and changing bureaucratic systems that have vested interests. But this is perhaps the most significant and an on-going pre-requisite. Second, education and training are essential to prepare people to be successful entrepreneurs. It is essential to understand how business works, what management requires, the consequences of decisions and actions, processes of creative development, laws and regulations, and so forth. Finally, investment capital is an obvious need. Many entrepreneurs have more ideas than money to pursue them. Moreover, entrepreneurial efforts are often stimulated by necessity. People without jobs who need to earn a living to care for themselves and their families pursue opportunities to provide that can good business. But this can’t happen if they lack the capital to get the business started. Of course, all ideas are not equally good and everyone who wants to start a business would not be a good business person. So there must be vetting processes that sift the grain from the chaff. But access to capital is an absolute requirement for entrepreneurial enterprise, and that need is not only at the start but also at latter points when there is opportunity for growth to a achieve a next level of success.

 

Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

We need to employ action research/Living Lab research or whatever form of research in the creative industry programs so us to generate more narrative about the subject. Africa has no documentation about its creative initiatives compared to its counterparts  as many artist work on informal basis. There are no statistics of how much the industry makes, what makes that kind of money, where and to what level. It makes it difficult to valuate the industry’s worth.

 

2. Entrepreneurship Cannot Be Cloned:

Education Must Be Flexible

 

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Tom Manda – GESCI-AKE Master Tutor:

My top three recommendations for boosting youth entrepreneurship are

  • Schools boosting and training students to be entrepreneurs;
  • Schools promoting and developing talents at an early age;
  • Youth taking time to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives and what they can offer.

 

Eleni Atsikbasis, film-maker, audiovisual entrepreneur, environmental start-up developer:

My top 3 recommendations for boosting Youth Entrepreneurship in organisations:

  • Being open to listen…
  • Being open to engage..
  • Being open to create opportunities for Youth Entrepreneurs to implement solutions and take ownership of challenges as they grasp their role is to take action on a local level.

On an individual level – it’s our duty to be the crank handles, the starter-uppers for sustainable impact that contributes to our collective identity…that has the potential to solve universal challenges!

Duncan Onyango – GESCI-AKE Master Tutor:

At the individual level developers or creators should start building innovative solutions that are applicable to real world problems. I think some of the problems we have can easily be solved by innovative solutions that do not require government intervention.

 

3. Everything is Entrepreneurial:

Teach [Social] Business and Communication

 

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Liam Caffrey – GESCI-AKE Master Tutor, Music Producer & Technologist:

My top 3 recommendations for boosting youth entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurs should be encouraged to…

1) Be original and creative by being themselves and having a ‘can do’ attitude

  • First-time entrepreneurs should focus on what they are passionate about and stick to what they know best. If your heart isn’t in it then the chances are you won’t be a success.

2) Be clear about what the focus of their business is.

  • Be able to explain the key idea of your business in less than 30 seconds to capitalise on a chance meeting with a potential investor or customer.

2) Strictly manage their financial situation

  • Act like a startup and manage your cashflow. Make your business idea achievable and affordable to start off with and grow from there while managing all costs closely. Find ways to improve your business idea while expanding.

 

Keoni DeFranco, Founder & CEO of the startup Lua: Secure Messaging for Healthcare:

Incentivize young entrepreneurs to build: Offer a hack-a-thon with a price or have the state propose a current problem they are facing that can be solved with innovative technology (ie infrastructure) and hold a contest for the local community to come together and pitch ideas to solve it. Award the top 3 ideas and give them resources ($, facilities, mentors) to pursue these ideas and present them at a present time. Make the “demo day” publicly accessible so you inspire more people to engage next time around. Pick a winner, fund them and eventually give them access to test their new product with real users in the field.

 

 

Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

There  is need for a mandatory pre-training and upskilling for all potential startups prior to issuance of startup funds. This should be a minimum requirement by venture capitalist and startup funders.

 

4. Digital Matters, But So Does Physical Space

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Keoni DeFranco, Founder & CEO of the startup Lua: Secure Messaging for Healthcare:

Give access to facilities (workspaces) and mentors so these youth can gather somewhere to meet other like minded individuals to brainstorm on ideas and take them to the next level. Give them close mentorship so they can learn how to iterate their ideas on the fly.

 

Lee-Anne Ragan, President, Rock.Paper.Scissors Inc., Corporate Training

In my experience it’s critical to ‘walk our talk’ – that is weave ICTs into all of our learning materials, pedagogies, pre & post engagement strategies for learners, transfer of learning strategies, and so on. We often talk about ICTs as a discreet, siloed pieces of work – that is for use in marketing, for teaching etc, but we don’t have a holistic, integrated approach, which I recommend for using ICTs for:

  1. Listening & research; using ICTs to listen to our stakeholders and efficiently do our homework aka research;
  1. Learning & communication; using ICTs in a way that matches what we know about learning and engagement, rather than outdated pedagogies that are top down, expert driven and ineffective (for example, “watch this video and answer these 3 questions”);
  1. Ease & efficiency; the world is a constantly changing place where information overload is rampant.  Strategies for using ICTs to bring ease and efficiency is critical, in order to do more of #1 & #2.

 

Miroslav Polzer, IAAI-GloCha, Executive Director, Social Entrepreneur in technology and youth employment

  1. Provide an easily accessible networking and capacity building space (Innovation Hub, Living Lab…) where young people can meet peers and learn about the combination of social design, technology and business solutions for meeting individual needs or solving social challenges  
  2. Create a (ideally globally coordinated) local enabling ecosystem (in combination with 1.)  which provides access to internet, technology, funding and potential customers
  3. Mentor youth!

 

Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

I agree: Physical space is essential. It does not matter whether it is in a closed location/hub like the GESCI’s AKE or iHub, but it could also be created by provision of physical internet access infrastructure such as the wide area coverage as witnessed in Uganda’s digital drums for the off-grid communities and through Kenya’s rugged innovative BRCK technology. These technologies allows provision of enriched Entrepreneurial training and access of online support tools.

 

5. Find a Niche

 

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Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

There is need of community outreach and awareness campaign amongst the community of web users about the availability of certain web based and mobile based products. This will spur the growth of demands for these products. The awareness campaigns would also connect the relevance of  an innovation to a community problem.

 

6. No Success Without Collaboration

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Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

Establishment of a creative media alliance focusing on three key areas of Knowledge provision (as played by GESCI), Products and service provision as provided by our industry partners like Tsunami Studio and Environment as taken care of by policy partners like the government and INGO (International Nongovernmental Organizations).

Curriculum and training content to be modeled with the help of the existing industry partners who answer to a particular trade or market niche. 

 

7. Support Should Continue “Forever”

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Keoni DeFranco, Founder & CEO of the startup Lua: Secure Messaging for Healthcare:

Give access for entrepreneurs to share their past and current experiences. Nothing exciting the youth more than hearing success stories and the struggles it took to become successful. Host panel discussions or fire side chats (even if these have to be remotely) but allow startup stories to be shared and allow the youth to engage and ask questions.

 

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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.

Conclusions:

  • 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?
  • JOIN THE CONVERSATION – IN THIS BLOG  and elsewhere!

Expert Insights by Expert-Practitioner-Participant Naftally Muriuki

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Naftally Muriuki, Nairobi-based media practitioner, shared his experiences of TSoTC

Naftally Muriuki is Nairobi-based teacher of media, as well as professional animator (and videographer and editor). He has kindly agreed to share his views as the participant – practitioner of TSoTC.

Here are some of highlights and take-aways from his feedback:

  • During TSoC Naftally Muriuki has collaborated widely with the different clusters and individuals of the project, either as a co-creator or by giving peer-review and feedback.  This seem to have been the case with several other participants as well, since many creative professionals tend to have several skills and areas of focus. This echoes the findings of the basic TSoTC survey — as well as broader experiences of mLabs: In innovation projects, the collective may overshadow the individual
  • Naftally Muriuki plans to do an individual project later, utilizing the takeaways from TSoTC. His core audience for his (still secret) creative product will be the youth — but he also sees other, very different stakeholders as important. His target is to simultaneously  show the the creative industry business sector that while animation might not yet be a big segment in Kenya, it has immense potential. This is a great example of the multi-stakeholder approach that can be embedded in innovation-centered projects.
  • Naftally Muriuki’s expectations of TSoTC and future AKE trainings: They have, and should continue to provide a learning platform but also an opportunity to network with colleagues, industry representatives, as well as funders and other stakeholders. This, again, echoes the findings of the preliminary survey that time and forums for networking (such as the upcoming Showcase) are invaluable.
  •  A practical tip: AKE Upscaling is being discussed in professional groups (e.g., in WhatsApp) – a great way to reach out to potential participants and collaborators.

(See the full interview here.)

Expert Insights: Sari Virta on Innovation Leadership

Our first Expert Insights are by Sari Virta (PhD Candidate in Media Management at University of Tampere, Finland; Team Leader). At present, she is researching how innovation can be managed in creative organizations. Before, and in parallel to, her academic career, Ms. Virta has had a long career in innovative media organizations, as well as a team leader in multi-stakeholder contexts.

Ms. Virta’s Top 5 Recommendations for Effective, Empowering Innovation Leadership:

 

  1. Understanding of the true nature of innovation, as work. Creativity and the resulting innovations are complex mix of different aspects, hence, conflict-driven work. Leaders of innovative organization need to realize that and carry the related responsibility.
  1. Innovation and creativity in organizations need to be understood in different levels: Not only as organizational but also as individual, groups within the organizations, and even in terms of the broader networks around the organization. The dynamics of these levels might be very different and have to be skillfully managed.
  1. Understanding of how the work/organizational environment can lead to, and support, creativity and innovation. Mere individual creativity, let alone, is not enough.
  1. Innovation is often prohibited or hindered by the existing ways of being and doing. Leaders need to examine and question plenty of old routines.
  1. Understanding of different stages of projects and processes. Managing the brainstorming stage will most likely needs to be very different than the final steps of the execution.

Thoughts? Comments? Please post them below!