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14 October 2013

Business at Skopje Design Week

Megan Powell Vreeswijk delivers Nesta's Creative Enterprise training during Skopje's Design Week 2013.

(c) British Council Macedonia

As part of our global Creative Enterprise programme, Megan Powell Vreeswijk delivered a 4-day workshop to Macedonian creative entrepreneurs during this year's Skopje Design Week.

The 4-day programme (2-5 October) engaged over 20 participants in evidence, relationship and blueprint modelling; finance and mentoring. The training is based on Nesta's Creative Enterprise toolkit, which was designed to help creative entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and identify the values and relationships that are key for their enterprises.

It was extremely inspiring for the participants to work with Megan, who works as Senior Commercialisation Fellow at Loughborough University's Studio, isa certified Nesta trainer and has extensive experience in setting up businesses and guiding entrepreneurs. ‘My family started a bakery, which we sold later to open a lingerie boutique', says Megan. 'I have set up many businesses of my own, gaining vast entrepreneurial experience and become head of the Studio at Loughborough University where I work on creative and interesting projects that teach and help young people realize their ideas'.

For Zarko Koneski , Project and Communications Coordinator at the British Council in Skopje, 'this programme helps young creative people from Macedonia to improve their business skills and promotion of their product or service. When designers and other arts students complete their studies, they're rarely equipped with the skills needed to develop a business. It is rare to see such programmes within arts degrees in Macedonia. That is why we have offered this workshop in cooperation with Skopje Design Week, who also stressed the need for it.’

Skopje Design Week is a cross-sectoral platform which aims to promote creative industries from Macedonia, and better stimulate their role in contributing to the country's financial prosperity. The event is run by the Ministry of Pleasure, a local cultural platform which promotes Macedonian design around the world. SDW's programme is an ambitious mix of events, workshops and exhibitions in product design, fashion, jewellery, photography, film, music, gastronomy, theatre, visual arts and creative business development. The British Council supported the 2012 edition of the festival with an exhibition by Jade Folawiyo and an artistic performance by East London arts collective Le Gun.

(c) British Council Macedonia

The participants in the workshop all came from a broad range of sectors, from jewellery and fashion design, through performing arts, digital and photography. According to Megan, the participants 'had a lot of potential but needed to build more confidence in themselves. They also need to expose themselves more to the markets they wish to enter, as some of them had great ideas but had not fully considered the quality of competition on the global markets'.

Macedonian creative entrepreneurs face quite a few challenges when it comes to international trade - e-commerce regulations and trade barriers are currently hampering its growth. Megan also pointed out the importance of developing intermediary agencies and programmes that support creative entrepreneurs - from incubation hubs run by universities/public bodies to support networks which encourage collaborations and peer-to-peer learning.

(c) British Council Macedonia

'People are amazingly friendly and warm, and there is a feeling that they are fighting to get creativity to the front of the agenda, when in fact there is an immense history of creativity in the country that can be built upon. There are many barriers stopping them from easily creating an international business and this is something that needs to be addressed at a higher level.'

Megan Powell Vreeswijk is one of Nesta's new Creative Enterprise trainers and works as Senior Commercialisation Fellow at Loughborough University's Studio. For more information about our Creative Economy work in Macedonia, please visit British Council Macedonia's website.