Exciting news came in on Friday as Connected Sahara, a network of hubs for creative industries in Southern Africa, issued a press release on their partnership with BancABC which will see funding opportunities for creatives. This comes at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the volatility of the creative sector proving “hand to mouth” entrepreneurial and creative hustles to be unsustainable. The news comes as a relief to a sector with most players whose 2020 opportunities were dismissed by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions both locally and globally.
Connected Sahara was launched last year as a creative industries network with the value proposition of connecting people within the entrepreneurial ecosystem through mapping, public programming and enabling dialogue. With only a year in the game, the organisation is already making waves through strategic partnerships set to benefit the industry as a whole. Highlights of their efforts include the CreativeZW Unlocked research that focused on “Creative Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Mapping and the Hub Footprint Stories” in partnership with British Council, and Mapping hub and entrepreneurial activities during COVID-19 through a survey in partnership with IncubatorZw. The hubs network recently partnered with Earground for a dialogue series on Monetizing Digital Content in the Creative Sector which are streamed live on the Earground Facebook page on selected dates. If you haven’t already, this is a time to catch up on as the previous episode available on Facebook.
The partnership with BancABC will “support the creative industry by exploring, nurturing and cultivating partnerships that augment the potential of these industries”, Connected Sahara. In their press statement on Friday, the creative network elucidated that the together with their partner they will “pioneer a programme that seeks to impact the productivity and output of creative works. The partnership will bring together key players in the creative ecosystem including private sector, public sector, government and NGO stakeholders to serve as creative partners”. This will move Zimbabwe a step forward in achieving SDG goal 8 which talks about ‘Promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.’
However, the creatives themselves have to be ready and willing to make efforts that position them to benefit from the sectorial developments to come. They ought to be alert and keep themselves informed so that the opportunities don’t pass them. They say “knowledge is power”, if this remains true, then the industry lives to benefit from sector specific financial solutions available and easily accessible for the average creative who is willing to learn. Financial wellness for individuals translates to resilience in the sector in unforeseen times. The creative community needs to appreciate the benefits that come with financial inclusion and building cross sector synergies especially now with the digital disruption induced by COVID-19.
In the words of managing director of Connected Sahara, Chenesai Mukora-Mangoma “Our role as a creative industry network is to enhance an inter-connected ecosystem towards realizing, harnessing and capturing the potential that lies in the Zimbabwean creative sector. This involves innovative solutions that foster collaborative work, such as the work we are setting out to do with BancABC. This is ground breaking work that aspires to create financial models that will work to increase funding options for creatives”
Like in any other industry, access to funding and finance is one of the pillars that lead to growth. The Creatives Unlocked research established that 41% creatives see “accessing funding and finance as one of the biggest opportunities for business growth”. Greater cash flow would unlock the potential of the Creative Industries. One of the main sources of funding for creative projects is donor funds which are not easily accessible to every individual artist and often come to drive a certain agenda. This opportunity can provide access to funding and finance that scraps off the limitations on creativity and allows artists to be independent and responsible as they grow.