Kenya fashion industry
The Creative DNA 2.0 Cohort were selected based on the strength of their business models; design, creativity and quality. [ PHOTO / Maganga Mwagogo ]

Twenty Kenya-based start-ups have been selected to benefit from a British Council programme funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office to support the growth of the local fashion industry. The businesses will form the second cohort of the Creative DNA programme launched in 2020 to develop skills, knowledge and global networks for local fashion designers.

The programme is focused on promoting alternative and innovative approaches to the global fashion system with the ambition of demonstrating that the fashion sector in Kenya is a professional choice for young people and a valuable contributor to the creative economy.

The early-stage enterprises that underwent a rigorous selection process to join the programme are 1V1 Garments, BOGUK, Tiger Tail Twister, Iliki Resort Wear, Mariam Couture, Luxaltra, Nairobi Apparel District, Vazi Maridadi, Muni Designs, Peni Mbili, TUG, Wangari Mathenge, At Odds, Olisa Kenya, SIANNA, DIRO, Nikech Amor, Kolakisa, Oqkra and Bour and Metamorphisized.

The British Council’s Arts Manager Kenya and East Africa, Sandra Chege, says the second cohort of the programme, Creative DNA 2.0, will also benefit from action-based learning through digital coaching sessions, co-created online campaigns, and market opportunities.

“The Creative DNA 2.0 Cohort were selected based on the strength of their business models; design, creativity and quality; opportunity for growth and business potential,” says Ms. Chege.

The selection was done through a collective assessment between the British Council Kenya Arts team as well as their delivery partners. They will participate in a 6-week long business incubator; photo-shoot and a pop-up shop.

The programme conducts work in six major areas: Research and Insight, Policy and Advocacy, Business Support, Fashion Incubator as well as #FashionFridays, an ongoing series of online discussions on the Kenyan Fashion industry in a global Fashion industry context.

The Creative DNA 2.0 project will be delivered by the Kenyan partners Silvia Tonui and Ann McCreath and a UK based partner Fashion Scout. The 20 fashion businesses will be immersed in a 6-week incubator programme between February and March 2022 – including a business bootcamp and photo-shoot.

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They will also be showcasing their designs through a pop-up shop in Nairobi in March 2022 and through a digital showcase on Fashion Scout London’s website targeted at an international audience.

The Creative DNA 2.0 builds on the success of 2020’s Creative DNA 1.0 programme where 11 fashion designers successfully completed the business incubator, participated in the digital campaign ‘Wauzine’ and a month-long pop-up shop at the Village Market.

British Council Kenya Arts programme supports the creation of new art and fosters partnerships between the creative sectors of the UK and East Africa. “This project is committed to working with creatives and their communities to promote innovation and creativity, whilst promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion. The participants of these programmes become integral parts of the creative economies and networks in Kenya,” adds Ms Chege.

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