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ACP EU culture programme (Eastern Africa) – ignite Culture: shortlist of 20 businesses to be awarded a total of 2.5m Euro for programs & projects in the creative & cultural industries

Eastern Africa – May 2022 – Ignite Culture, an ACP EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa)—for the support of creative and cultural industries (CCIs) in 14 Eastern Africa countries—is excited and proud to announce its grant applicant shortlist. The Ignite Culture facility is an initiative of HEVA Fund LLP and the British Council, and is financed by the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU).

Having launched its inaugural call for applications in August 2021, the ACP-EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) invited creative talents with registered and operational businesses in Burundi, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda to apply for grants of up to a maximum of 180,000 euro per application.

Between 11th August and 15th September 2021, the fund received and reviewed a total of 379 applications from 11 of the 14 eligible countries. Majority of applications were received from Kenya (134), Uganda (58), and Rwanda (53) respectively. The total funding requests from our 379 applications amounted to over 38.6 million euro.

“The Ignite Culture grant facility is an exciting project that allows us to expand our outreach to 14 countries on the continent. This project has contributed to the strategic goal of extending our services across the Eastern Africa region, in line with our 2018-2022 strategic goals.

Our outreach and commitment to the culture and creative sector includes financial investments, knowledge development as well as capacity building, skill development, and market development. The Ignite Culture Fund will be fundamental to the growth of the overall sector in our region.” Wakiuru Njuguna, Partner and Investment Manager at HEVA.

Wakiuru also added that, “We cannot wait to start working with the successful organisations and are looking forward to seeing the impact of their projects on Eastern Africa.”

Of the eligible creative and cultural industry value chains, it was interesting to note that the majority of applications came from these three subsectors:

  1. Performance, events and celebrations;
  2. Audio visual and interactive media; and
  3. Creative and cultural education.

All applicants were subjected to a rigorous 6-step process. This selection process included 2 review panels, pitch meetings, due diligence, and finally a financial and capacity assessment. Successful applicants were shortlisted, invited to review and execute their grant contracts, and are currently at the final stage.

Commenting on the response to the 2021 application call and subsequent shortlist, Jill Coates, British Council Kenya Country Director shared that, “The incredible response we received from across East Africa has demonstrated the wealth of creative talent and ideas present across the region. We are thrilled to be working with our partners at HEVA and the EU to offer this vital programme for the creative sector in the region.

The whole team has been amazed, not only by the number of applications we received, but also the sheer quality of those applications. The applications were very competitive and we were convinced of the capacity and abilities of the final successful applications.  We wish to congratulate all of the organisations shortlisted and are looking forward to supporting them to achieve their projects.”

Speaking on behalf of OACPS, Dr Ibrahim Norbert Richard, Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Human Development Department, Organisation of the ACP States said, “We are delighted by the strong response of East African cultural operators to the call for proposals. This demonstrates both the capacity of the ACP-EU Culture Programme to respond to the needs of the arts and culture community in the region and the effectiveness of the awareness-raising efforts of our technical partners in the field.”

Talking about this grant facility in the context of youth, Agnieska Skuratowicz

Head of Unit for Youth, Education and Culture in DG International Partnerships

at the European Commission noted that, “It is great to see the variety of the first Eastern Africa cultural and creative shortlist for the ACP-EU Culture Programme. Through the first sub-grants we will support creative and digital entrepreneurship in the region, leading to jobs and growth, in particular for young people, as well as cultural diversity and empowerment of youth.”

In this first application call, Ignite Culture is happy to commit a total of €2.5 million to the final shortlist. Meet our 2021 shortlist of creative and cultural business below. This list includes all organisations who have been invited to the due diligence and contract signing stages.

 Link to Images of Participants

Shortlist from Uganda:

  1. Bold In Africa is a retail outlet housing up-and-coming designers from across the African continent. Their proposed use of funds is for business clinics and a digital marketing programme, as well as the development of an e-commerce platform for fashion;
  2. 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust is an independent non-profit focused on the creation and exploration of contemporary art. Their proposal focuses on studio equipment and an international residency programme; and
  3. Simma Africa Creative Arts Foundation is a non-profit using creative & digital arts to empower sexual minority groups, refugees and womxn. Their proposed use of funds will focus on artist training and policy dialogue sessions.

Shortlist from Tanzania:

  1. Culture and Development East Africa (CDEA) is a creative think tank that provides cultural and Pan-African thought leadership for creative, social and scientific innovators. Any funds awarded will be used for a creative economy incubation and accelerator initiative. Their project is in partnership with Naledi Fashion Tanzania and the African Animation Network;
  2. Nafasi Art Space is a vibrant art centre and platform for artistic exchange. Their proposal focus is on artist capacity building, mentorship and storytelling showcases; and
  3. Busara Promotions is a non-profit that works to promote music from East Africa. Their proposed use of funds is toward performance, mentorship and festival management opportunities for women at the Sauti za Busara festival.

Shortlist from Sudan:

  1. Sobajo Art Centre for Women specialises in the production of creative handicrafts with a particular focus on providing tools, training and financing for women and youth who have been internally displaced by war in Sudan. Any granted funds will be used for craftspersons training in basket weaving;
  2. Omer Asim is a womenswear fashion brand working at the intersection of design and culture. Their proposed use of funds is for perfume making using traditional Sudanese techniques.

Shortlist from Somalia:

  1. Rift Valley Institute (RVI) is an independent non-profit that combines action-oriented research with education and public information. Their proposal for the purpose of this grant facility focuses on an artist development programme.

Shortlist from Kenya:

  1. Book Bunk Trust is a social impact firm that works to restore public libraries. Any funds awarded from the Ignite Culture grant will be put towards public programming, building a historical archive and developing a partnership toolkit;
  2. Za Kikwetu Productions Ltd is an audio-visual production house in Nairobi, whose proposal focuses on cultural heritage and podcasting;
  3. Avandu Vosi Studio is a group of artists who storytell through comics, illustrations and animations. Their proposal focuses on heritage and the publication of a comic book;
  4. Saba Studios is a design lab and manufacturer of indoor and outdoor furniture, inspired by the rich history of Swahili furniture and culture. Their proposed use of funds is for craftsperson education and professional development;
  5. Bomas of Kenya is a state agency that works to preserve, maintain, educate and promote the diverse cultures of various ethnic groups in Kenya. Through the Ignite Culture grant they plan to put together a collection and interactive showcase of indigenous music;
  6. BlackRhino VR is a virtual reality production company that develops online content through the power of virtual reality technology. They plan to focus on an augmented reality platform;
  7. Standup Collective is growing a comedy club culture in Kenya, in order to create a community of comedians and comedy lovers. Through the Ignite Culture grant they plan to run a series of stand up comedy workshops and showcases, as well as further network development.
  8. Muthoni Music Entertainment focuses on music performance and training. Their project will focus on artistic and business skills incubation.

Shortlist from Rwanda:

  1. Imbuto Foundation started off with a single project and has since evolved into managing over twenty projects in health, education and youth empowerment that are aligned to the national priorities. Their proposed use of funds is focused on identifying and supporting youth in the creative arts.

Shortlist from Mauritius:

  1. Move for Art is an independent agency specialised in arts and culture events and consultancy. Through the Ignite Culture grant they plan to develop spaces for multidisciplinary arts and artist residencies.

Shortlist from Ethiopia:

  1. Whiz Kids Workshop is a female-led innovative social enterprise that focuses on improving the lives of children and youth through educational media. Their proposed project focuses on an animated series aimed at girls, a digital distribution platform and development of a web app.

We look forward to announcing our final grantees on the official ACP EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) – Ignite Culture website and social media pages in the coming weeks.

Preparations for the second call for applications are underway with more information to follow in May 2022. ACP EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) – Ignite Culture and its partners would like to thank all creative talents for their applications, support and engagement.

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