A group of 40 upcoming fashion designers have graduated from an Equity Bank,organized financial literacy course, setting the stage for their formal entry into the world of business.
The 40upcoming designers, who were also the finalists in the bank’s Vijana Na Equity;Design your Destiny, fashion design competition, successfully underwent a 30 hourscomprehensive 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 $330m a year, according to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), will also enjoy access to a KShs 100Million 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.
Equity Group CEO, Dr. 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, Ms Sally Karago, noted that the designers are now set to launch their careers in the lucrative fashion design field.
The CEO 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.
Dr. Mwangi said, “Through the Vijana na Equity initiative, we are setting off on a journey to nurture the youth and transform their dreams to be entrepreneurs in the creative scene”.
During the graduation ceremony, Arnold Muriithi (23) a budding fashion designer was picked for the tophonour, managing to walk home with KShs 150,000. Arnold, who also got an all-expenses paid invitation to attend this years Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Ethiopia from Equity Bank. The other winners included Sheila Omondi, LatifMuqqadam and Chebet Lesan who were picked for the first, second and third runners’ prizes respectively while Kevin Ouma and Chebet Lesan won the most promising designer awards.
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 upcomingfashion 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. The five were, Sally Karago, Chairlady of the Association of Fashion Designers of Kenya and the managing director of Mcensal Fashion House; Diana Opoti a fashion media professional, avid blogger, founder and executive producer of the television series Designing Africa;Katungulu Mwendwa a young, enthusiastic Kenyan fashion designer; Franklin Saiyalel a fashion blogger based in Nairobi and Linda Muriithi managing director of In the Bag – a company that organized two editions of a Fashion Week in Ethiopia.