Supporting creative entrepreneurs in Colombia
This blog post was originally written by the British Council team in Bogota, Colombia.
For most of Colombia’s history, the creative industries have played a small to non-existent part in the country’s economy. However, we have witnessed a new generation of Colombians who understand the economic and social value of the arts, and want to pursue a different career path.
In this climate, educational institutions have been slow to respond to the needs of the creative industries. This means that educated artists and practitioners often lack financial and business skills.
It is in this context that the British Council and Nesta ran the Creative Enterprise Programme in Bogota. In December 2016, 18 individuals were hand-picked to participate in the workshop, each with a clear business idea. The aim was to take them on a journey to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills.
Values, vision and mission
As the participants presented their business ideas, it became clear that they had not yet developed a clear understanding of what their business was really about. They lacked confidence in explaining their core idea, unable to communicate it and render an abstract idea into a more palpable proposal.
Therefore, the first exercise they faced was rather tough: to describe and prioritise their personal values and their business values. With these values in mind, they began creating their business mission and vision. At the end of the day, the participants each did another presentation - an elevator pitch - to communicate their idea in just 10 seconds.
The difference between their initial presentations and final elevator pitches was stark: a better understanding of their business values, vision and mission had helped them sell their idea to others, and even to themselves. It was a definite confidence boost.
After a challenging first day establishing a solid vision and mission, it was time to start thinking about customers. Who were they trying to engage with and how could these people be reached?
This involved identifying prospective customers, understanding their expectations, and figuring out not only the way they could be reached but also how to appeal to their values and needs. The task was not easy; the participants had to transform a vague idea of a customer into a specific person, drawing out specific features of personality and values. After writing their own values and their business values, the participants needed in turn to picture their customers and create a synergy with the brand.
Finance and viability
The third day began with a session by Andres Jaramillo, a local legal expert, outlining the legal and fiscal landscape in Colombia in which the new entrepreneurs would have to navigate.
In order to plan a financial future and solvency, they would have to consider local intellectual property and tax laws that could affect their product. To help them with this, the participants worked through some financial planning tools. Knowing how and when to take certain financial decisions is a skill every entrepreneur relies upon to make a business work.
Facing the future
Being able to reflect on these elements is key to setting up any successful creative businesses. Being able to do so as part of a group of like-minded on a similar path, all while being guided through each stage by an experienced professional, is a privilege most creative entrepreneurs don’t have. Here lies the value of the Creative Enterprise Programme. The participants have benefited from this experience and developed a skill set to help them face a challenging scenario, and the creative industries can be bolstered by the potential success of new entrepreneurs.