The British Council’s Creative DNA programme has unveiled its fourth cohort, consisting of 20 dynamic Kenya-based fashion startups. The Creative DNA 4.0 cohort spans various sectors, including apparel, bags, accessories, and footwear. Designers in this cohort include Itikadi Fashion House, Atieno Yarns, Ankole luxury, Solo Nairobi, Reinas Gowns Kenya, JoDesign254, Kiseroleather, Omina Otsieno, Dhana Vito, Metis, Okana Couture, NAWIRI, Alienated Route, Manna, Klubwear Apparels, YOSHITA 1967, Istyle Kenya, Kiarie_Afrika, Kali Works, and Wakianda Studio.
Launched in 2020, Creative DNA aims to cultivate skills, knowledge, and international networks for local fashion designers. Since inception, Creative DNA has successfully incubated 51 fashion businesses in Kenya, leveraging connections to the UK market. The program’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in its support for a wide range of fashion startups.
The Creative DNA 2024 cohort is set to benefit significantly from action-based learning methodologies. This includes coaching sessions, mentorship by esteemed Kenyan and UK industry experts, collaborative online campaigns, and unparalleled access to market opportunities within Kenya and the UK.
“The Creative DNA programme was created with transformation in mind, and since it was put into place, it has given Kenyan fashion designers both opportunities and challenges in equal measure. In addition to learning how to develop their businesses while competing for funds to do so, programme alumni have been given multiple opportunities by the British Council to explore prospects for expanding their brands and competing in international markets after completing the training.” Says British Council’s Project Manager, Kanze Nzovu.
Creative DNA 4.0
Members of this cohort will be taken through a six-week BootCamp. This will be conducted in collaboration with Project Manager Silvia Tonui, seasoned fashion designer and educator Ann McCreath, and Fashion Scout UK. It is tailored to address challenges encountered during the growth stage specifically. These include attracting customers, expanding to new markets, identifying strategic partners, and securing investment.
As part of the Creative DNA program, five seed grants will be availed to enhance the participants’ ability to innovate for their businesses. This initiative demonstrates the program’s commitment to not only providing essential training but also offering tangible support to empower entrepreneurs. The combination of targeted mentorship, collaborative learning, and financial assistance creates a comprehensive platform for these fashion innovators to thrive in the competitive industry.
So far, Creative DNA’s impact has been felt globally. Recent delegations attended prestigious events such as the Africa Celebrates summit in Ethiopia and showcasing at IATF2023 in Cairo. Moreover, Creative DNA got royal recognition as demonstrated by their representation in an installation for King Charles’ maiden visit to the continent post-coronation.