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Creative Enterprise Programme: A facilitator’s view

I’m busy packing my bags for Colombia; toothbrush, check; presentation, check; credit card, check. All good and ready to go for the second pilot of the re-launched Creative Enterprise Programme, in partnership with the British Council.

For those not familiar with the previous iteration of this international programme, it is a three-day workshop for startup, small and medium-sized creative enterprises that teaches them business and innovation skills to help them grow and become more resilient and profitable. As our understanding of the importance of the creative industries improves – they now represent 3% of global GDP and over £84 billion to the UK alone – there has never been a better time to invest in these business, whether they be architects, graphic designers, app developers or musicians.

For the past six months, Nesta has been working to support the British Council in repositioning the programme and ensure it fits with their core networks. The first pilot of this re-launched programme happened in November in Macedonia, and was a resounding success. I can’t take much credit for that though as it was delivered by my colleague Catherine Doherty; I was merely an understudy, learning the ropes in readiness for my turn in Bogota.

I’ve run more workshops than I care to mention, and a three-day affair is always a challenge. You have to think about how to retain the participants’ engagement, how to keep them focused on their own business as well as inspiring them with best practice case studies, and perhaps above all how to make sure they return each day and don’t get so excited that they leave early to put things into practice! I’m glad to say there were no worries on either front, which was in no small part due to the excellent support given by the Nesta team and the local British Council staff, who couldn’t have been more helpful.

The aim of the three-day workshop is to cover everything a startup or small creative entrepreneur might need to help them launch or grow their business, from understanding customers and reviewing the competitive landscape, to potential expansion and corporate business strategies, including learning from local case studies and, my favourite part, pitching their idea to strangers or investors.

The Macedonian audience was a very diverse mix of young entrepreneurs, which means it is sometimes difficult to pitch the content of such a workshop just right; a little too advanced and you will lose them, a little too basic and they will lose respect for you. Given the high energy levels in the room over the three days and the quality of the outputs of the sessions, it would seem that the Nesta team have got the content spot on. Participants were engaged throughout, networked effortlessly, and without exception developed their business ideas hugely in a very short space of time.

I’m now very much looking forward to seeing the programme take hold locally and helping to grow the skills and capacity within the British Council target countries.

Find out more about the programme>>