With no large cultural events taking place as a result of social distancing, three young innovators have embarked on a journey to support the creative industry by establishing the country’s first online market for artworks.
The move, according to their organization, Imanzi Creations, comes at a time both technical and financial support is needed in order to help drive economic recovery for the industry especially for artistes who are running out of business.
Speaking to Doing Business, in an exclusive interview, Credia Umuhire Ruzigana, Managing Director and co-founder of the organization, said that on Tuesday, September 1, the platform will mark its first month since its inception.
“Operations began on August 1, when we first reached out to the artistes and told them about the initiative,” and “Since, then we have received a huge turn up from various artistes which shows that the innovation comes in to quench a need for selling their products”. Said Ruzigana.
So far, she adds, the platform has a capacity to accommodate a total of five sections of different artwork.
“We have a section for the photo art, poems, authors, illustrators and both hand and digital painters”. Ruzigana added.
Ruzigana highlighted that the platform will be free of charge to all artists.
“We have made this free of charge because it is a form of support. The innovation is about making it more accessible for clients interested in these products as well as helping artists earn a living from their works. However, Starting next year, it will not be free.” She pointed out.
Different reports indicate that along with the tourism industry, the current crisis is particularly critical for cultural and creative sectors due to the sudden and massive loss of revenue opportunities, especially for the more fragile players.
Rwanda for instance recently launched a Rwf300 million Cultural and Creative recovery grant to support young artists with seed funding and business training to implement innovative projects and overcome challenges caused by Covid-19.
By August 22, the grant which was launched in July, had attracted a total of 668 proposals.
This according to Ruzigana, shows that today, more than ever, the importance of culture and creativity for society is clear.
However, she observes, “In addition to financial support, technical support is also needed (especially for smaller organizations/ artistes) on how to conform to health and safety requirements as well as how to adapt their business models in light of a protracted period of restrictions on galleries, exhibitions among others.”
Additionally, Ruzigana highlighted that, “We have seen different platforms including fashion, electronics, domestic equipment’s etc, but we didn’t have a platform particularly for artworks.”
The current challenge, according to the organization, is to reach out to all players in cultural and creative production.
According to Ruzigana, the move is part of the organization’s long term goal to have a brand which is the children of a thousand hills and be one of the marks of Rwanda.