Creativity, often seen as a beacon of hope in conflict zones and a catalyst for freedom in restrictive environments, is the driving force behind the Creativity Pioneers Fund coalition's mission.
The BIC Foundation and the Moleskine Foundation, in collaboration with a diverse group of partners from various sectors, have awarded €5,000 grants (Sh785,000) to 54 small organizations worldwide, all dedicated to leveraging creativity for social change.
The primary aim of the Creativity Pioneers Fund is to democratize creative skills, ensuring they are accessible to all, regardless of their circumstances.
These grants are not mere financial support; they serve as a vital opportunity, providing visibility and networking opportunities for the recipients.
These pioneers are tackling some of the world's most pressing issues, from climate change to gender equality, human rights, quality education, and migration.
However, the fund's impact goes beyond financial assistance. It aspires to build a collaborative ecosystem where the BIC Foundation and its partners act as ecosystem builders.
In addition to funding, the Creativity Pioneers community offers in-kind support, expert mentoring, peer-to-peer exchanges, and networking opportunities, reinforcing the belief that collaboration is key to addressing global challenges.
Since its inception in 2021, the Creativity Pioneers Fund has disbursed grants to 101 organizations spanning 40 countries.
The 2023 edition attracted over 800 applications from 111 different countries, underscoring the global demand for creative solutions.
Italy emerged as the leading applicant, closely followed by South Africa, Nigeria, the US, and Kenya.
The rigorous selection process for the 2023 grants spanned four months and involved experts, partners, and organizations from previous cohorts as evaluators. The outcome was the unveiling of 54 new Creativity Pioneers.
Of these, 70 per cent operate in major metropolitan areas, with the remaining 30 per cent distributed among medium-sized cities and rural regions.
Remarkably, 40 per cent of this year's recipients operate on an annual budget of less than EUR 50,000 (Sh7.8M), with 9 per cent operating on budgets below EUR 10,000 (Sh1.6M), illustrating the financial constraints faced by social change initiatives reliant on creativity.
A noteworthy aspect of this year's Creativity Pioneers is that one-third of them were founded less than three years ago, emphasizing the fund's commitment to nurturing emerging voices and diverse perspectives.
Kenya boasts two organizations among the beneficiaries: Book Bunk Trust and the Macondo Book Society.
The Book Bunk Trust, operational since 2018, is on a mission to rejuvenate Nairobi's iconic public libraries into inclusive spaces for culture, heritage, knowledge exchange, and shared experiences.
Meanwhile, the Macondo Book Society, a Kenyan non-profit, annually hosts a literary festival that transcends linguistic boundaries, fostering conversations about African histories and futures.
The impact of the Creativity Pioneers Fund extends globally, with grantees from various corners of the world. In Guatemala, Fundaciòn Ixcanul is using film to drive positive impact and social transformations.
In Nepal, Freedom Studio is fortifying non-violent civic mobilization by integrating art, media, and technology. In Zambia, Circus Zambia is nurturing young changemakers through the art of circus.
In Jordan, Seven Hills is employing skateboarding as a tool for social and personal development, and in Taranto, Italy, a group of architects and designers founded Post Disaster, an organization aimed at reshaping the prevailing narrative through contemporary creative productions.
Adama Sanneh, CEO of the Moleskine Foundation, expressed their vision's growth: "In 2021, we had a vision to build a global movement of creative minds, thinkers, doers, and change-makers partnering with creative and cultural institutions, brands, cultural organizations, and the creative sector at large."
Alison James, Executive Director of the BIC Foundation, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing their belief in the transformative power of creativity.
She stated, "At the BIC Foundation, we strongly believe in the power of creativity as the driver of change and we want to create the most inspiring and innovative pool of creativity makers throughout our society, and to support them to have impact on our world. As founding partners of the Creativity Pioneers Fund, we are taking our mission one step further, positively impacting in underserved communities at a global scale, while building a community of pioneers that can connect and work better through collaboration."
The Creativity Pioneers Fund is made possible through the support of a network of visionary partners, including the Moleskine Foundation, BIC Corporate Foundation, PromozioniServizi, Cherry Bank, Fondazione Marcegaglia, Fondazione Oelle, Community Arts Lab by Porticus, Hawthornden Foundation, BASE, Fondazione con il Sud, Fondazione CRT, Open Society Foundation, The AD Store, MANE, Healthy Food Healthy Planet, DLV BBDO, and EMLEX. Learning partners include Kaospilot, Aurora, Watson Institute, and Social Enterprise Open Camp, while network partners encompass the British Council and European Cultural Foundation.
The Creativity Pioneers Fund serves as a testament to the transformative potential of creativity and innovation when harnessed for the betterment of society. It is a beacon of hope, cultivating a global movement of changemakers dedicated to leaving a lasting impact on our world.