Training Targets Creative Entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe

August 4, 2015

Sixteen Zimbabwean creative practitioners followed a five-day training to increase the viability of their ideas and improve their individual skills for setting up and running a creative enterprise.

NESTA, a UK-based innovation charity that brings individuals and organisations’ ideas to life, in partnership with the British Council, HIVOS Regional Office for Southern Africa and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Zimbabwe, provided funding and technical support for the training led by prominent creative industry advisor Percy Emmett.

Emmett, who is also an Honorary Enterprise Fellow at the Coventry University School of Art & Design, developed the NESTA Creative Enterprise Toolkit that provides a framework for developing, testing and turning creative ideas into sustainable practices.

The full potential of Zimbabwe’s creative sector remains largely untapped due to several factors, but most importantly because the importance of the sector to the national economy is largely underrated. Creatives are regarded as dazed, hedonistic personalities who have nothing better to do with their time and energy. However, creative industries are gaining increased recognition as key ingredients in fuelling economic growth.

Emmett describes his training method as Socratic teaching because it gives the creative entrepreneurs questions, not answers. The idea is to model an inquiring, probing mind by continually boring into the subject with questions. Participants had an opportunity to dig deep into themselves to find answers, with Emmett acting as the equivalent of the inner critical voice that the mind acquires when it develops critical thinking abilities.

“The idea of the training is taking a creative idea through a set of tools and diagnostics that enables the individual to see if the idea is viable. One of the reasons the training was created was to help answer the question of viability before people invest huge amounts of time and money into the idea before it develops,” he said, adding that the training also intended to nurture the individual capacity of creatives so that they can effectively and profitably pursue their ideas.

“It’s all about people. The key element to me is working with people – that’s my common denominator,” he said.  

Emmett urged the creatives to be humble and network with others to avoid the failure which is endemic in the creative industry.

“The largest contribution to failure in the creative industry is isolation. Those people who sit in their offices and do not interact with others to just laugh or discuss are due to fail. Relationships are key to success,” he said.

To date, the NESTA Creative Entreprise Toolkit has been introduced around the world to early stage creative entrepreneurs in countries such as Brazil, Nigeria, Russia and Turkey, amongst others.

The long-term effects of the training will include lasting benefits from the new networks that will have been formed, access to teaching materials, and increased project management skills.

In this video, Emmett explains the purpose of the training: