NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – A group of 40 upcoming fashion designers have graduated from an Equity Bank-organised financial literacy course, setting the stage for their formal entry into the world of business.
The 40 upcoming designers, who were also the finalists in the bank’s Vijana Na Equity; Design your Destiny, fashion design competition, successfully underwent a 30 hours comprehensive financial training program custom designed for players in the creative sector.
The bank recently launched the Vijana na Equity campaign geared at providing support for youthful creative entrepreneurs’ aspiring to make their mark in various fields.
Following their graduation, the fashion designers are now ready to claim a share of the local fashion design and apparel retail market estimated at more than US$330m a year, according to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), will also enjoy access to a Sh100 million seed fund to support the whole clothing and textile ecosystem which includes agriculture, ginneries, spinners, fabric traders, and fashion and design through lease hire and asset finance facilities from Equity Bank.
The Financial Literacy course is delivered by the Equity Group Foundation under its Financial Knowledge for Africa (FIKA), program which seeks to raise financial literacy levels across Africa and covers topics such as; budgeting, savings, marketing and sales strategies, debt management, financial negotiations and banking services & products selection.
Speaking during the graduation event, Equity Group CEO James Mwangi said that the clothing and textile industry holds enormous potential and value for Kenyans in creating employment, supporting tourism, and urged Kenyans to support the “Buy Kenya Build Kenya” initiative by the government.
Armed with such financial management skills, Dr Mwangi who was accompanied by the Association of Fashion Designers of Kenya Chairperson, Sally Karago, noted that the designers are now set to launch their careers in the lucrative fashion design field.
The bank, he said, will provide tailor made financial solutions for local fashion designers among other players in the local creative arts scene. He further pledged that the bank will partner with the fashion industry in Kenya in taking it to the next level through supporting initiatives like the proposed Kenya International Fashion week which will provide a marketing platform for local fashion designers.
“By providing financial literacy lessons to such a talented and youthful group, Equity Group is seeking to equip them with the necessary skills required to navigate through the dynamic financial environment. Fashion Designers equipped with financial literacy skills, we believe will be better placed to exercise prudence and even harness available financial resources including credit products,” Dr Mwangi said.
“Through the Vijanana Equity initiative, we are setting off on a journey to nurture the youth and transform their dreams to be entrepreneurs in the creative scene” Dr Mwangi said. “This is aligned with Equity Bank’s purpose to transform lives by maximizing opportunities for our existing and prospective clients,” he added.
During the graduation ceremony, Arnold Muriithi (23) a budding fashion designer was picked for the top honour, managing to walk home with Sh150,000. Arnold also got an all-expenses paid invitation to attend this year’s Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Ethiopia from Equity Bank.
In addition, the contestants with promising work will be legible for internships in some of the leading fashion design houses in Nairobi. The leading contestants will also receive business development mentorship support from the Equity Investment Bank portfolio managers.
Within the Vijana na Equity scope, the bank will be seeking to support upcoming fashion designers and other sectors in the creative arts and innovation fronts to attain their dreams while enjoying commercial returns.
The top 40 aspiring fashion designers were picked from over 195 entrants in the online contest. A panel of five judges from the industry worked with Equity Bank in developing the contest, in selecting the top 40. They also took them through practical sessions in fashion and design during the FiKA training.