First of all, let's talk about George. As well as being one of the main minds behind Heva and The Nest Collective, George is also a Global Fellow for the International Youth Foundation and a recipient of the international Development Committee's Outstanding Leadership Award.
George and his team at Heva curated and delivered Nairobi's first Creative Finance Symposium. Over two days (8-9 March 2017), the Symposium gathered over 800 people to talk about alternative finance models for the creative industries - made up of highly interactive panel discussions and one-to-one conversations. Download the full Creative Finance Symposium programme as a PDF here.
The British Council supported the Symposium (along with Hivos, Forum Syd, Lambent Foundation, The Royal Danish Embassy and The Kenya Private Sector Alliance) as part of their Creative Economy programming across East Africa. Lynsey, our Creative Economy programme manager, recently caught up with George about the Symposium and here's what the lovely George had to say:
You recently ran the first Creative Finance Symposium in Nairobi, tell us about the programme and what it involved?
In 2016, we were fortunate to lead and host a series of national conversations interrogating and reflecting on Kenya’s policy environment and impact on creative industries.
With the aim of positioning Kenya as a global entertainment destination and a regional hub for creative industries, these conversations recommended specific legal reforms along with a raft of programmatic interventions. Chief among these; the adoption of a cluster development model, deepening financial access to creative industries, and access to markets.
Subsequently, it was necessary to convene a symposium to consider the questions of deepening access to finance and investment, which is critical to the growth of the creative industries. The symposium we ran reflected on public programmes, private investment, development assistance programmes, philanthropy and lotteries as well as commercial lending.
Why did you want to run this Symposium? What are the emerging issues in Nairobi that you felt the Symposium could touch on?
We were persuaded that the symposium format would best provide a platform for addressing and creating a clearing house for numerous competing ideas, frameworks and models. The success of the symposium was to convene thought leaders and experts in the given fields to help reflect on how best to transform their models and finance frameworks to best align and serve the creative industries.
Through this symposium, we were able to reflect on the strategic value of public financing programs for growing industries, the impact of the shifting landscape in development cooperation and development finance “aid to trade”, as well as the need to catalysing private capital and business partnerships.
What change did you hope to make by running the Symposium?
The symposium was an initial step to bring the people responsible for finance and investment for the creative sector, to come to a moderated discussion and through which process we can collect commitments. These commitments then, form the basis for our continued engagement with them.
We are very confident that the quality of strategic commitments generated will help move the sector over the current bottlenecks, and increase opportunities for deepening access to finance for our underserved sector.
What do you think (and hope) the immediate and long term impact of the Symposium will be?
We are very persuaded that East Africa’s unique history, culture, and dynamic people provide a great resource upon which creative industries can develop world-class products, services and experiences. Through deliberate effort, we are certain that we can develop Kenya and the region as a global entertainment destination and a regional hub for creative industries.
We are encouraged by the numerous pronouncements by senior leaders in the region on the centrality of the creative sector (Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda), we celebrate the establishment of the inaugural arts fund in Kenya (Finance Act 2017), and Tanzania, and we commit to continue to innovate our support for the private sector to provide innovative services and products.
To download the Creative Finance Symposium report as a PDF, visit this link and keep up to date with what Heva are up to by following @HEVAFund.
To keep up to date with what our wonderful British Council team are working on across East Africa, follow @ke_British or #EastAfricaArts on twitter.