Anna Karnaukh, the British Council Senior Arts Manager in Ukraine, reflects on the past few years of the Creative Enterprise Programme and offers her advice for creating meaningful learning experiences and a spirited community.
The Creative Enterprise Programme (CEP) is a three-day training workshop for emerging creative entrepreneurs from any sector of the creative industries. The workshop was developed by Nesta and is based on their Creative Enterprise Toolkit, which uses design and business tools to support creatives in establishing and growing their businesses. CEP has been delivered in more than 15 countries worldwide in partnership with the British Council.
Ukraine is one of those countries. Here, CEP launched in 2015, one year after violent protests and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government during the Euromaidan Revolution, at a very opportune moment with the country experiencing an increased desire to shop and support local.
Three years on, I am proud that the British Council Ukraine has become a CEP champion, with 16 workshops delivered in nine cities across Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, and an alumni of more than 350 creative entrepreneurs. Now that we are planning another ambitious autumn of workshops, here are my seven top tips for building a learning programme and creating a community.
Partners are key in everything, and obviously CEP is no exception - the programme itself was born out of the partnership between Nesta and the British Council. Before our launch in Ukraine, we talked to the local PwC and convinced them to become a pro-bono content partner. In addition to the standard three day workshop, PwC curated an additional fourth-day on the specifics of doing business in Ukraine – taxes, business registration and staffing. Usually the PwC day turns into a dynamic Q&A session and finishes way beyond the scheduled 5.30pm.
Ask questions and analyse the responses from your applicants. Information about the status of their business, their number of staff, their understanding of the ecosystem in general, and their challenges will give you a baseline to track the impact of your programme.
In winter 2018, we received more than 500 applications for just four CEP workshops. The profile of applicants was so wide and inspiring that, in a way, we ended up compiling a research sample of creative SMEs in Ukraine!
At the end of day three, CEP participants present their elevator pitches for their creative businesses. One of the questions they would then usually ask was: What happens next after the workshop? So we introduced public pitching events with an audience, a jury and serious prizes. Something that worked so well in the workshop had, in our mind, the potential to excite wider audiences.
So, how does it work? After a wave of workshops (we usually have four to seven in a year), alumni can submit an application that demonstrates what they learned and how their business has changed since the workshop. We choose eight to ten who become finalists in the pitching competition. At the event, they have three minutes’ each to convince the audience and the jury that their business has potential and their product or service is worth attention and support.
As well as the pitching competition, the event includes panel discussions, presentations and a raffle of CEP alumni products. This financial year we will hold two pitching events – one in Kyiv and one in Lviv. The last event in March 2018 gathered more than 200 people and more than 5,000 viewers through Facebook streaming.
Of course, the pitching events wouldn’t be so exciting and competitive without prizes! We offer one or two seed-fund prizes of £1,000-2,000 depending on the budget available. A winner can spend this on marketing, training, consultancy, staff or specific equipment – whatever their business needs. Our partners are also keen to contribute to the prize fund. Just to name a few, we have offered a month’s rent in a co-working space, business strategy sessions and attendance on a management course.
Many CEP participants said that they would benefit from a mentorship scheme, so we developed one as another answer to “What’s next?”.
In order to create a pool of mentors, we ran an open call and identified six experienced creative practitioners with different backgrounds. They joined our dream team of Ukrainian CEP workshop associates and one of the UK CEP workshop associates to provide mentoring.
At the pitching event earlier this year, we awarded five six-month mentorships (involving six mentoring sessions) and there are currently four Ukrainian mentee-mentor pairs, and one Ukraine mentee to UK mentor. In October 2018, we will evaluate the results and tell you more.
We will now be offering one mentorship at each CEP workshop, instead of waiting for the public event. We realised that some alumni were too shy to apply for the public pitching format, despite having great ideas and great products. As of October 2018, upon presenting their elevator pitches at the end of day three, the participants will vote for who deserves the mentorship. 50 percent of points will come from the participants, another 50 percent from the workshop associate. Smaller scale Eurovision voting, if you wish.
At some point, ideally around two years after your launch, you should analyse the impact – which workshop tools were most effective, how many businesses expanded, or even how many left the creative sector.
In March 2018, together with economic development agency PPV Knowledge Networks, we wanted to find answers for those CEP-related questions. However, we ended up with a 46-page report with insights that went way beyond the programme. The 106 respondents talked about what they felt Ukraine lacked to help businesses prosper; where they physically worked (at home, in an office, or a co-working space); and the organisations in their hometown that support the creative economy. An English version of the report will be available in September 2018.
One of the findings in our research was that 88 percent of respondents continued to communicate with their fellow participants after the workshops, and 27 percent actually started to collaborate together. Almost all respondents stressed the importance of contacts and networks. In order to create opportunities for the different workshop groups to get to know each other, we launched a Facebook group with currently 340 active members. I already know of one blog I will be sharing this week!
In case of questions, please contact Anna Karnaukh, Senior Arts Manager at British Council Ukraine: [email protected].