Dr. Inya Lawal is a determined social entrepreneur and the creator of Ascend Studios Foundation (ASF), a non-profit organisation dedicated to global impact through capacity building and economic empowerment. As a lead programme partner with the United States Consulate General in Lagos, Nigeria, she manages projects such as the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), which provides training, networking, and finance to women entrepreneurs. Dr. Inya oversees transformational initiatives such as the African Creative Market (ACM), Global Tech Africa (GTA), and the Women Empowerment Programme for Trafficked Persons (WEPTAP). Her accomplishments include serving as the G100 – Women Economic Forum’s Country Chair for Nigeria on Export and Credits, participating in the Fortune Most Powerful Women’s Mentoring programme, and receiving an Honorary Doctorate Award. Dr. Inya Lawal is a strong force for good change and empowerment, serving on the board of Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI) and as president of Women in Film and Television Africa (WIFT Africa).
In this exclusive chat with Dr. Sarah Inya Lawal, we delve into the event’s impact on global perceptions of African creativity, its technological foray into VR, AR, and photography, and its proactive stance on intellectual property rights.
FAB: Could you elaborate on the significance of this event in promoting growth and sustainability within the African creative economy?
Inya Lawal: I believe that our event plays a significant role in promoting growth and sustainability within the African creative economy. By bringing together artists, designers, and creative entrepreneurs from across the continent, we create a platform for networking, collaboration, and exposure. This, in turn, helps foster innovation, economic development, and job creation within the creative industry.
Additionally, our event helps showcase the rich and diverse talents of African creatives, not only locally but also on the global stage, which can lead to increased international partnerships and investment opportunities, ultimately contributing to the sustainability and growth of the African creative economy.
FAB: The Africa Creative Market had over 10,000 participants from 28 countries in 2022. How has the international presence at the event impacted the global perception of African creativity, and what do you foresee for the 2023 edition?
Inya Lawal: The international presence at the Africa Creative Market in 2022 had a profound impact on the global perception of African creativity. It showcased the depth and diversity of talent from the continent, resulting in a more positive and informed view of African creativity worldwide.
Looking ahead to the 2023 edition, we anticipate further strengthening this impact. With increasing participation from diverse countries, the event will continue to raise the global profile of African creativity, fostering collaborations and opportunities that will empower African creatives and entrepreneurs to thrive on the international stage.
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FAB: With a focus on sub-sectors like VR, AR, and photography, ACM appears to be embracing cutting-edge technologies. How do you see these emerging technologies? shaping the future of the creative industry in Africa and beyond?
Inya Lawal: For the 2023 ACM, our primary focus is on empowering the creative industry with technology and bolstering intellectual property protection. These are two essential elements necessary for the industry’s growth. Often, when we think of technology, we do not immediately associate it with the creative sector. However, it is a fundamental component that requires education and a deep understanding of how technology can enhance various aspects of our work, whether it’s in the creative, fashion, music, or art sectors. This year, we firmly believe that by successfully navigating the tech landscape and improving our intellectual property enforcement, we will propel the industry forward.
FAB: Intellectual property rights are a major focus this year. How is the African Creative Market working with partners like the US Consulate in Lagos and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs to enforce and enhance best practices, particularly in an era of digital content proliferation?
Inya Lawal: The Africa Creative Market is taking a proactive approach to addressing intellectual property rights in collaboration with partners like the US Consulate in Lagos and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Together, they are working to enforce and enhance best practices, especially in light of the digital content proliferation era.
These efforts involve conducting workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns that educate African creatives about the importance of protecting their intellectual property. The market is also fostering connections with legal experts and organisations specialising in IP rights to provide guidance and resources for artists and entrepreneurs.
By partnering with these institutions, the Africa Creative Market aims to create a supportive environment that not only promotes innovation but also ensures that creators can safeguard their intellectual property in the evolving digital landscape, ultimately benefiting both African creatives and the global creative community.
FAB: Are there any surprises, guest speakers, or exclusive activities that attendees can look forward to during the event?
Inya Lawal: I can assure you that at the Africa Creative Market 2023, all our speakers, guests, and performances will be surprises, so just come through.
FAB: Finally, what message do you have for prospective attendees and participants, and how can they make the most of their experience at the Africa Creative Market?
Inya Lawal: I extend a warm welcome to all prospective attendees and participants in the Africa Creative Market. I encourage you to maximise your experience by actively networking, attending workshops, showcasing your talent, seeking partnerships, staying informed about industry trends, and embracing the diversity of African creativity. I eagerly look forward to your participation and hope for a rewarding and inspiring experience at the event.