The creative economy has been identified as a crucial economic sector for artistic and cultural expression and a source of income, employment and livelihoods. However, participation in this sector is often limited by lack of basic business skills, networks, infrastructure and resources. The Kasi Creative Propeller aims to address these issues while fostering an inclusive creative economy in Diepsloot. The Kasi Creative Propeller will be implemented over a 10-month period in 2019.
Like most townships, Diepsloot is culturally rich but economically disadvantaged, characterised by high unemployment, poverty and inequality. Entrepreneurship is a key to solving these problems. The creative economy is a logical sector for entrepreneurship especially for youth, given their creative culture, knowledge and talents coupled with their familiarity with media and technology. Establishing and sustaining a successful creative enterprise is constrained by a host of challenges ranging from basic business fundamentals to access to technology, finance and markets. In addition, township-based creative industries tend to be fragmented and dependent on grants, limiting the cohesion and sustainability of the sector.
The Kasi Creatives Propeller is aimed at individuals and emerging and small businesses in the creative industries, which includes film, photography, graphic and web design, drawing/art, music, creative writing, animation and digital skills. It provides a solution to the everyday challenges faced by township artists that limit their ability to access and unlock economic, social and artistic value from South Africa’s growing creative economy.
We currently have 78 people signed up for various elements of this initiative. The Kasi Creative Propeller (like all our programmes) is aligned with the 6 Sustainable Development Goals we aim to impact:
Mechanisms to monetise and distribute content are imperative to unlocking value in the township economy, and mainstreaming arts and culture within it. The project addresses this problem through creative collaboration and social enterprise. This type of approach ensures that community artists (who are too often the target of failed training programmes) do not work in silos and are truly empowered to secure a livelihood based on their talents, creativity and passion for the arts.
2019 will also see the launch of the pilot phase of an online media platform that will help our creative entrepreneurs to market their skills and creative talents. A content production lab has been set up in the upstairs front container of the eHUB. A multi-purpose studio is in the pipeline.
“The creative economy is one of the most dynamic sectors of the global economy with a powerful transformative force for socio-economic development. The creative economy deals with the interface between economy, culture, technology, and social aspects. Having creativity as the main driver, the sector is concentrated around products and services bearing creative content, cultural value and market objectives. Creative goods and services are resilient products relying on ideas, knowledge, skills and the ability to seize new opportunities.” (United Nations Institute for Training and Research – UNITAR)
What does a 20% increase in revenue mean for an entrepreneur? Ask Brian Mafifi, CEO of Diepsloot Radio. In the past three months Brian has signed advertising contracts with clients like Gauteng Department of Economic Development and 1Life to the value of R250 000. And there’s more to come with some other big brand deals in the pipeline.
Operating out of the eHUB, Diepsloot Radio is an online radio platform started in 2011. The station was started with owner funds, a small loan and donations of equipment and a container. Brian enlisted the help of volunteers to help with do the radio shows. In its first year of operation the station had 500 listeners. This has grown by 90% to 5000 listeners. A number of the crew members – who gained skills and experience while working or volunteering at the station – have gone on to have successful careers at bigger stations. “We need to make a contribution to the community we operate in,” explains Brian. “We give people the opportunity to work here as volunteers and get experience. We’re very proud of those who have gone on to bigger stations and great jobs.”
The additional revenue will allow the station to buy more equipment, upgrade the studio and allocate money towards a marketing budget to grow the brand. The station currently employs 7 paid crew members.
“Being an entrepreneur is tough,” says Brian. “The support of organisations like the Wot-If? Trust and donors like Ericsson have been a big help in keeping the station alive.”
Getting invited to show at an international fashion week is a big deal for any designer. Behind the glamour of the spotlights, what does this opportunity mean for a young fashion brand?
“Walking the ramp in the fashion capital gave us a taste of success. It means we are closer to the dream of taking our brand International” says business manager, Thabang. In the 6 months since the show, their direct sales have grown by 33% and sales with their retailer, Urban Zulu, have increased by 40%.
Salva and Thabang (Alvada’s co-owners) are investing the additional revenue back into the business, with prospects to open a shop at 27 Boxes in the Johannesburg suburb of Melville.
The opportunity to go to Turin came via the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), where Salva participated in a mentorship programme. The Wot-If? Trust assisted with buying fabric to make the garments and business skills development. Thabang has also found value in the business admin and marketing workshops offered by Wot-If?
“We’ve come a long way and organisations like Wot-If? have played a big role in our success” says designer, Salva. “We’re really excited about our future. We’re looking forward to going back to Turin in 2019.”
Thabang and Salva have been running Alvada Creations for 5 years. Their shop and studio are currently located in Diepsloot Extension 2. Alvada employs 2 additional people.