The hidden value of creative industries: bringing life to many economies: International Women’s Day 2020

On this International Womens Day at TDi we raise our voice for the undervalued supply chains that create meaningful employment, preserve culture and deserve resources to fulfil their potential.

Anthea Smits, CEO The Difference Incubator
8 March 2020

International Women’s Day is a time I usually reflect on two ideas ­- firstly the incredible place of privilege I find myself in and secondly, those who don’t live with the same privilege who might need our voice. I feel like I have the advantage of being able to ride the sacrifice of incredible women and men from history who have fought for the rights of women and I get to eat from the table they paid a massive price for. To these men and women who fought for women’s rights today, I say THANK YOU.

I might live with this privilege, but many don’t and what is their story? A lot of our work at TDi at this time is found amongst women who have little rights to make their own way, their work is considered insignificant and micro. When they do put their head up and succeed, they live in a system that ensures they aren’t recognised or celebrated in fact, quite the opposite. Last year our work took us to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea to work with bilum weavers. Bilum is the traditional weave PNG women have done for centuries to make bags. All Papua New Guineans including the men proudly carry bilum. We were contracted to look at the supply chain of bilum and the possibility for new commercial opportunities. By most this is considered a ‘cottage industry’, ‘pocket money for the women’. But as we dug deeper, we discovered for some this was far from pocket money or cottage industry, these women are artists and bilum have the opportunity for healthy business as the developed world grows to love traditional handicraft like bilum.

Bilum weavers in PNG

It fascinated us that creative industries aren’t included in Papua New Guinea’s GDP, in fact there is very little data to understand the economic impact of creative industries in PNG.

This is staggering considering that creative industries represent $US2.250 Billion in the global economy.

(Source: World Economic Forum, 2015). This includes all creative industries including visual arts, media, TV, music etc. Other research suggests Handicrafts contributes around US$32 Billion to the global economy (The Aspen Institute Artisan Alliance) but this is a difficult figure to nail down when whole economies don’t even count handicrafts in their GDP.

Other interesting facts from the World Economic Forum’s study found that Creative industries are more inclusive employers employing more youth (15-29 years) than any other sector, employ a higher percentage of women compared to other sectors globally and small business makes up a large portion of this sector as well. In the US artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed.

So why is this important? There’s an old saying we measure what we value. The lack of measure around this sector suggests an undervaluing of ancient practice. It’s important because when industry is undervalued in a system it doesn’t get the resource or investment required to help it grow to full potential. The development of handicrafts and creative industries has further significance because it is often also about preserving traditional cultural knowledge. Handicrafts has the opportunity in many economies for the establishment of small business, meaningful sustainable employment, allowing women to stay in community, as well as preserving traditional knowledge and showcasing culture. What other value are we missing out on because of our assumptions and bias?

On this International Women’s Day at TDi we raise our voice for the undervalued supply chains that create meaningful employment, preserve culture and traditional knowledge, and deserve resources to fulfil their potential.

References:

Word Economic Forum – What is creativity worth to the world economy
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/12/creative-industries-worth-world-economy/

The Aspen Institute Artisan Alliance
http://www.artisanalliance.org/

Finding motivation to continue business during COVID-19

As the current economic climate evolves with COVID-19, we have been sharing some perspective from both our own work and the continual conversations and support we’re offering others. Initially, we shared a metaphor about what this first felt like – like our house was...

Pivoting during COVID: responses from Fiji

Recently, we caught up with Deb Sadranu at Essence of Fiji to see how things are going for her, her business, and Fiji in the face of COVID-19.  Tourism is a key industry for Fiji, and Essence of Fiji usually serves the tourists. As a result of COVID-19, Deb’s whole business model has pivoted from predominantly local, in-store sales, to predominantly international, online sales.

A letter to my daughter about Black Lives Matter and racial inequality

Dear Willow,  I’m writing to you because I want to share some rumblings in my gut that have troubled me.  You are at an age now, where it is time for you to step into a conversation that for us as Australians is long overdue. I have tried to teach you about love,...

Why mindset matters to women’s entrepreneurship and why we should invest in it, especially now

At The Difference Incubator (TDi) we’ve been supporting social entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses for over a decade. In 2019 we partnered with PNG Women’s Business Resource Centre and Kate Wilson from Kamaji Tree Consulting and Coaching, with the support...

Customer Empathy Interviewing

When was the last time you asked your customers what they thought? We use Customer Empathy Interviews to help businesses deeply understand their customers and design competitive products and services. It’s also been one of our top coaching tips for business owners...

Pivoting your business model during a crisis

A conversation with Geert from FarmWallGeert Hendrix founded FarmWall in 2016. Farmwall is an agrifood-tech startup that designs urban farming technology and experiences to enhance fresh produce accessibility in the city. In our constantly developing world, the need...

Business During COVID-19: In perspective

At TDi, we believe in the significance and power of small business’ and social enterprise’s contribution to life and the economy. It is this belief that drives us to support them now more than ever.

Working from Home

It’s one thing to make the choice to work from home, but it’s another to be forced to for reasons beyond your control. Even the seasoned work from homers are feeling the pinch in this time of forced isolation – I am no exception!! Oh, and throw in supervision of remote learning for your children and it’s even more challenging.

Surviving the campsite in the COVID-19 crisis

Two weeks ago, I shared with the team an analogy of a campsite. I reflected that our house has burnt down and we are struggling to reconcile the shock and the grief of all that is happening. I shared with them that I’ve been thinking that we need to set up camp, for now while we figure out how to reinvent for the new normal. We have a temporary place of residence and it’s not what we would have chosen but we can create from it. So, for the past two weeks, we have been focused on getting the campsite set up, trying to work out where stuff goes, who’s sleeping where and how to trade out of a tent.

COVID-19 Support Options Available for Your Business

We have compiled a comprehensive list of support available to Social Entrepreneurs, Not-for-Profits and SMEs in Australia.