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Fashion entrepreneurs get £10, 000 grant for creative enterprises

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Five young Nigerians have emerged winners in the British Council’s Creative Enterprise Support Programme with each winner going home with £2000 each in grant funding and mentorship with key fashion industry players.

The winners are Cherish Ibeh of Cher Stunner, Vivian Ogbuagu of Handsmithen, Anthony Sule of Antoine Collections, Misan Atsemude of Omali Bridals and Mabel Sontan of Adire Biz Hub.

The Creative Enterprise Support Programme is a British Council initiative to support young FashionTech entrepreneurs with training and mentorship to grow their business and specifically designed to offer enterprise, artistic, technical and skills training to existing and potential fashion-tech entrepreneurs in Abuja.

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The programme, which kicked off last year with 60 entrepreneurs participating in a two-phased programme, was led by experienced professionals working in the fashion industry in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The first phase was a two weeks intensive training programme followed by a six months incubation programme for 30 entrepreneurs who made it to the next phase. The incubation phase included mentoring, coaching, internships opportunities and much more.

After 10 months, 10 finalists pitched their businesses, with five of them emerging winners. Vivian Ogbuagu was selected for a unique business that focuses on fabric wastes turned into raw materials. Giving more insight into her business, she said, ‘’We’re trying to build a circular economy around fashion by designing out waste entirely from the process. So, instead of say, you buy a necklace and want to throw it away, you can bring it to us and we make something else out of it. I believe that once you have an endless supply of raw materials, you are bound to grow.”

Another winner, Sule Anthony produces bespoke and ready-to-wear footwear for millennials. On challenges faced by small-scale fashion entrepreneurs in the country, he said, “I’d say recognition. Prior to this programme, I was faced with the issue of being recognised. I beleive we need more recognition in the fashion business.’’

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Project Manager, Arts & Creative Economy, British Council, Uju Dubas-Agbasi said, “This programme is targeted at young ones doing things on their own but are limited in various areas. We train them to run their businesses properly, give them more knowledge, exposure and bring in trainers from home and abroad to widen their scope, help them run their businesses better and make money. We know the creative industry is one of the biggest employers of labour in Nigeria and we are doing this to help them build self-confidence, inject the business aspect into what they are doing, and run it in a professional way.”

On how the programme would help small businesses thrive in the Nigerian economy, she said the winners were not only trained on how to make clothes, shoes and fashion pieces but were also trained on finances, marketing, packaging and a whole lot of things.

The highlight of the programme was the presentation of cheques to the winners by the procurement head, West Africa, British Council, Idowu Akintade.

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