HEVA Fund, British Council launch US$5.3m grant facility to support creative and cultural industries in 14 East African nations

EAST AFRICA – HEVA Fund LLP and the British Council, as part of the ACP-EU Culture Programme, have established a grant facility, Ignite Culture, for the support of creative and cultural industries (CCIs) in 14 countries in Eastern Africa

This initiative is a result of a historic partnership between the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU), which in turn will offer great opportunities for creative talents from various African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

ACP EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) – Ignite Culture opens its call for applications on Wednesday 11th August 2021 and the facility will be available to successful applicants with a registered business, or to creative and cultural organizations, which have been in operation for at least 12 months.

The grants are available in three tiers, up to a maximum of €180,000 per applicant. 

All the eligible applicants should be registered and operational in one of the following Eastern Africa countries: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Applicants from the above 14 countries are free to partner with co-applicants from any other African country or EU state, as long as the activities benefit the populations in the Eastern ACP countries.

Activities may additionally be carried out in the ACP Member States outside Eastern Africa, or in non-ACP countries, with benefits targeting the populations within ACP countries. 

The eligible CCI value chains will include Cultural and Natural Heritage, Performance and Celebration, Cultural Infrastructure, Visual Arts and Crafts, Books and Press, Audio Visual and Interactive Media, Design and Creative Services, Creative and Cultural Education and Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

The successful applications will go through several stages of evaluation, including a pitch and due diligence process and they will then go through a budget review process to ensure that grant funds align with the objectives of the facility, and to assess the ability of the business and the proposed project to absorb the grant amount.

The final stages shall be contracting and the announcement of the finalists. 

The ACP EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) – Ignite Culture fund is worth €4.5 million and has been designed to provide growth capital to small and medium-sized creative businesses in Eastern Africa over the next few years.

ACP EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) – Ignite Culture will provide financing for creative businesses to help restructure interrupted supply chains in the wake of COVID-19, as well as: increase production capacity; diversify product offerings; increase market share; increase integration in local and regional value chains; support transition to low-touch and digital capabilities, and take advantage of new opportunities.

This new grant facility, which is a timely response to the loss of resources and opportunities for creatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, was launched via an international webinar on Wednesday 28th July 2021.

Denise Richert, International Cooperation Officer at European Commission (EU), shared that “The ACP-EU Culture Programme was designed to be closer to the local context through a regional approach”. Gian Giuseppe Simeone, Team Leader at ACP-EU Culture Programme, Technical Assistance Office, added that “This newly launched facility aims specifically at strengthening the competitiveness of cultural and creative industries in ACP countries working along the whole value chain in all sectors of culture.”

HEVA Managing Partner, Mr George Gachara, remarked: “Together with the ACP-EU and our partner, the British Council, we’re looking to distribute finances to seed-level facilities, early-stage facilities, and advanced-level facilities. These will hopefully, in turn, bring dynamism, innovation to the sector, and inspire the development of new positions and strategies in the cultural and creative industries.”

“Ignite Culture will offer business support for our grantees, we will be working quite closely with the successful applicants to strengthen their organizational development, to improve professionalization and to address any challenges they may have with legal or regulatory situations. Ignite Culture will also be working with the wider ecosystem, so if by any chance you don’t get a grant during the first application call, there will still be opportunities for you to interact with our platforms and gain opportunities for learning, best practices or connecting with colleagues, improving your process and your products even as you wait for a new opportunity” said Dr Akati Khasiani, Partnerships Manager and Project Manager of the ACP EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa) – Ignite Culture at HEVA.

Through this new facility, HEVA aims to build on increasing the contribution of the creative and cultural industries to the regional GDP and the region’s economy.

Business support remains an essential aspect of the fund’s strategy and as such, the beneficiaries will also receive tailored strategic assistance on-demand, to synergise with their direct cash-flow investment, including relevant financial modelling, with legal and human resource support, alongside tax, accounting and cash flow management support, and access to training and international platforms for market access.  

HEVA is facilitating Ignite Culture as part of the ACP-EU Culture Program, in partnership with the British Council.

The funds are set to consistently grow dynamic, youth-led creative enterprises over the coming years, with a further focused vision of increasing creative business ownership, enterprise management and general sector leadership especially among women and the youth.

This is set to contribute significantly to the growth of the Eastern African cultural footprint in regional and international markets.

Africa has so much to gain from harnessing the agency of creative young people. If they can understand how to operate in global markets and create sustainable businesses, they can take charge of their future and contribute to their families and communities in turn. Supporting the growth of creative industries, culture and entrepreneurship is key to our work in Africa.” British Council Regional Director Moses Anibaba. 

Guided by their 2018/2022 strategy, and in collaboration with their partners, HEVA remains at the forefront of helping producers of cultural goods, services and experiences to build high-value, profitable businesses, where new ideas will come to life, and where the highest potential for great profits, great jobs and happy people will be found.

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