The Impact of Cultural Industries on economic development in developing countries: An Entrepreneurial Perspective
Africa has some of the "fastest growing economies," yet there is a lack of a middle class (Economist). Natural resources have attracted foreign investments, however, most of the revenue exit these economies. What remains a consistent, permanent advantage is culture; it has been the most integrated core value before and after colonialism. The concept of culture has become a part of the identity of Africa and it has not been leveraged to its full potential. The 2013 Creative Economy Report states, "Culture is a way to create jobs and improve people's lives. It empowers people. It works for development" (UNESCO/UNDP). Cultural industries create local sustainable jobs that are less susceptible to the fluctuation of the global economy compared to jobs in factories and multinational companies. They are based on "local tacit know how" that is not accessible globally as they are people intensive rather than capital intensive (Scott A.J, 1999). Activ8 seeks to tap into this opportunity by maximizing the economic potential of developing economies by investing in their cultural industries. Activ8 aspires to accomplish this by targeting two sets of customers: creators, who are the activators, and investors. Our activators consist of two target segments: one living and working in these industries in a developing country, and the other being refugee clients who may have been exposed to a cultural industry and may want to pursue developing cultural products in their new country of asylum. Our investors are globally minded individuals who want to be culturally aware, have an appreciation for authentic cultural products, or seek to invest in entrepreneurial pursuits in Africa. During our first phase we will focus on the cultural industries in Ghana, West Africa. This will range from products in the textiles industry to sculptures and traditional instruments. We plan to pilot the first phase in Ghana and in the second phase, form a partnership with the International Rescue Committee, a refugee settlement agency, in Arizona. Our goals are to provide education and mentoring, market accessibility, product development, and financing to encourage and empower activators to be self-sufficient and successful cultural entrepreneurs, whiles improving economic development in their communities. Our online store will feature our activators' authentic products, their stories, and the cultural importance of each product. There will also be a platform for entrepreneurs in other industries in Africa to connect with venture capitalists or angel investors around the world. The educational component will be infused with product development and entrepreneurship training derived from the "From AHA!! to EXIT" strategy coined by Aram Chavez from the College of Technology and Innovation at ASU. In order for Activ8 to successfully execute its mission, Activ8 will need to be able to give our team and our activators access to technology, mentorship, and financial resources to operate an online store and rum Activ8's educational program. We also envision creating partnerships with boutiques and retail corporations to adapt these cultural products. Our long-term goal is formulate the conditions conducive for economic growth and sustainable development to ensure Africans become the main agents of development.