MoTIV, unlocking the potential of young creatives in Uganda  

Last week the British Council announced that starting, March 12th to 16th 2024, they will be hosting the Creative Economy Week in Uganda. 

The week, according to Rasheeda Nalumoso, the SSA Regional Programme Manager, Creative Economy at the British Council in Uganda has been curated with events focused on highlighting the pivotal role of the creative sector in contributing towards the country’s socio-economic growth, with a particular focus on youth creativity, collaboration, and innovation in fostering sustainable, dynamic, and inclusive growth. 

Nalumoso said, “In Uganda, the cultural and creative industries have thrived for generations, offering avenues for job opportunities and revenue generation for the country. This sector directly fuels accelerated economic growth, fosters job creation, boosts earnings from tourism exports, and promotes social inclusion. Hence, the initiative aims to spotlight Uganda’s abundant cultural heritage and its potential contributions to the global creative economy.”  

A Creative Economy Outlook report by United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTD) in 2021 indicated that the global exports of creative goods increased from US$ 419 million in 2010 to US$ 524 million in 2020, while world exports of creative services increased from US$ 487 billion to almost US$ 1.1 trillion during the same period. 

Additional report by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) indicates cultural and creative industries that generate annual global revenues of US$2,250 billion, nearly 30 million jobs worldwide and employs more people aged 15−29 than any other sector.  This shows the transformative potential of the creative economy to increase export earnings, create employment opportunities for the young population and accelerate socio-economic growth.  

At the heart of Uganda’s cultural and creative industry is MoTIV Creations, an artistic designed space that screams a sweet invitation into the world of talented artisans, craft makers, metal workers, product designers, fashion designers, photographers, performing artists, sculptors, carpenters, film producers, writers and other artists from all walks of life. 

Situated among other factories in the industrial area of Bugolobi along Old Port bell Road, this Haven for creatives is strategically embodied into equipping young creatives with skills, tools, and market opportunities to create socio-economic impact within their communities through innovative programs and initiatives that assert the importance and legitimacy of the creative industry, worthy of consideration alongside other traditional industries. 

Naziwa Barth, the proprietor of Etha Fashions, is among the fortunate young Ugandans who have benefited from MoTIV under NextWave Program, focused on skill development and enterprise enhancement. 

“I have always been passionate about fashion, stemming from my upbringing in a household where my mother operated a small tailoring shop. However, I felt limited in terms of honing this passion into a viable skillset for business. When my sister informed me about MoTIV’s skilling program, I seized the opportunity and applied in 2021 under the Fabric district. This is where I learned the art of making clothes and bags, laying the foundation for my business journey with Etha Fashions” Naziwa said.  

Following her initial year of training, Naziwa began crafting clothes for her inner circle using textiles from her mother’s tailoring shop. Profits from these sales enabled her to enhance her materials, sourced from downtown Kampala, and scale her market beyond personal connections. Driven by a desire to grow her enterprise and make a broader impact, Naziwa is actively seeking capital to expand her operations and invest in necessary machinery. 

According to Arthur Bagenze, Lead MoTIV Business, “MoTIV was established from the need to support creatives transform their ideas into scalable businesses across the value chain. This has been achieved through a series of interventions, including skill development via our academy, provision of tools within our makerspaces, enabling market access on both online and offline platforms through Omwoleso, and organizing community events such as Creative Fridays where they can network, share ideas, and collaborate.  

Bagenze said that despite these concerted efforts, the creative industry in Uganda is still far from realizing its full potential. This is primarily attributed to limited policy frameworks and infrastructural support, as well as a lack of professional capacity within the creative sector to produce high-quality products and services.  

Additionally, many players in the sector lack formal training, contributing to the sector’s lag. Limited awareness of the importance of culture and the creative economy, coupled with disintegration within the sector, further exacerbates the challenges. This has greatly affected the quality and quantity of creative work put out.  

“Amidst all these challenges, MoTIV has consistently spearheaded a transformative movement, equipping creatives with practical skills in various fields including kitchen, fabric, wood &metal, media, and art. These skills gained have empowered them to adapt their businesses effectively amidst the current circumstances” Bagenze added.  

Through Omwoleso market days, held monthly across Kampala, Jinja, Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale, Iganga, and Kasese, we provide both offline and online marketplace opportunities for our creative entrepreneurs to expand their product reach beyond their locality. By running these markets simultaneously in multiple cities, we have successfully facilitated a marketplace for 1,187 makers, utilizing both the online and offline Omwoleso platforms, Bagenze added. 

Uganda’s creative industry boasts a wealth of talented individuals seeking platforms to translate their ideas and skills into sustainable businesses. By nurturing the growth and development of these creatives, we aim to stimulate industrial expansion and nurture local enterprises, thereby uplifting our socio-economic landscape. 

In 2021, MoTIV was honored with the UNESCO–Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize for the Creative Economy, recognizing its exceptional efforts in fostering youth engagement within the creative and cultural sectors. This for the establishment, built as a home for creatives was just the beginning and an endorsement for what it seeks to achieve in advancing the opportunities in the creative industry.      

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