Accelerating Caribbean Fashion
Caribbean fashion and contemporary designers are getting a boost to help them penetrate the international market, through an accelerator programme jointly funded by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in cooperation with the European Union and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The Bank’s funding is through its Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF).
Starting on May 6, twenty designers from across the region have been participating in an intensive boot camp-style workshop led by Sandra Carr, one of the pioneers of the Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. The 20 participants worked with an expert team to refine their products for the export market, and went through a process of identifying where best to place their products; and how to develop their brand. They also learned how to leverage social media platforms to reach their target audience and develop a go to market strategy. The programme ended last Friday, May 17.
“We received 70 applications to participate in this programme, which has been devised specifically to get the designers to a certain point where they can capitalise further on future aspects of the programme such as the grants from CDB and participation at the Caribbean Fashion Showroom,” commented Allyson Francis, Services Specialist at Caribbean Export.
Designers Kimon Baptiste and Lisa Cordice from St Vincent and the Grenadines participated in the programme.
Caribbean Export and CDB through its Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF), are collaborating to enable a larger cadre of professionals within the Creative Industries to access critical resources. Caribbean Export has gained resources from the European Union as part of the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP). The Agency’s collaboration with CDB has enabled the pooling of resources to provide added support to the region’s fashion industry.
After completing the workshop, participating designers from CDB member countries will become eligible to apply for a CIIF Improving the Competitiveness of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) grant and also gain access to Caribbean Export’s market integration platform the Caribbean Fashion Showroom.
“We are extremely pleased with the response by our Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs)to the opportunity being provided through this fashion accelerator, and we are delighted that the beneficiaries of the programme come from 13 of CDB’s 19 BMCs. It is an excellent opportunity for designers to network, share experiences and learn from each other.
Over the 10 days, designers have benefited from the tutelage of more than five influencers and experts in the fashion industry. This capacity building intervention is a key component of CIIF, which seeks to improve the competitiveness.