STEP 1: SCAN THE ECOSYTEM

While the 7 theses from GESCI-AKE are quite generalizable, the first lesson learned is that a successful training and start-up incubation needs to understand the specific marketplace first. There is no one solution, or model. As noted, the GESCI-AKE approach to innovation in youth entrepreneurship is twofold – markets and individuals – and understanding one’s context is thus the foundation of success. This may seem self-evident, but in the rapidly-changing digital landscape and globalizing markets, coupled with local conditions, this means constant analysis of societal and market needs. A commonly used method is the strategic planning tool, SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses (existing situation), Opportunities, and Threats (future scenario). As an example, a recent SWOT on East African Creative Industries posits the following:

Strengths:

  • Rapid growth of especially mobile communications means rapidly growing market.
  • Cultural distinctiveness, very strong traditions, and real flair across creative sectors including music, crafts, fashion, visual arts, film, define the centrality for creative industries for the economy in the region. rapid urbanisation re-creates cities as centers for talent and creativity.
  • Digitalization resulting in proliferation of straight-to-digital business models across the region.
  • Digitalization fostering a culture of collaboration across different sectors, disciplines and technologies.
  • A sense of an emergent new world order and growing confidence in African creative industries marks the field.

Weaknesses:

  • Some cultural conservatism = an aversion to risk. Weak creative education.
  • Low levels of entrepreneurialism, management and leadership (education needed).
  • Growing (digital) literacy across the wider population is needed to unleash the market potential.
  • Tendency of replication over innovation.
  • Lack of policy support in the field of education + inconsistent approaches to copyright.

Opportunities to take (Threats =if opportunities not taken):

  • Build capacity and confidence across the creative workforce.
  • Create digitally-enabled platforms which showcase and trade creative goods and services.
  • Nurture domestic and international markets for creative products and services. Even small growth creates many jobs.
  • Establish a set of high profile networks of creative industries for information exchange.
  • Position the creative industries as value-adders across the economy in order to lift the quality and innovation potential of other sectors.
  • Improve the policy and regulatory landscape through capacity-building and guidance.
  • Such a macro-level analysis as the above has understandably direct consequences on the organizational foci for training. For instance, GESCI has recognized the need for education in the field, including demands for entrepreneurial skills and “confidence-building”; the need for networks; the role of creative industries as collaborating and supporting other industries, and so on.
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