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International Women's Day: Supporting Female-led Creative Economies in Africa

How are cultural and creative industries playing a role in developing economies? This International Women's Day, Dr Roberta Comunian and Dr Lauren England explore the female entrepreneurship and gender equality movement that's growing in Africa.

Developing a better understanding of creative economies in emerging African countries and exploring strategies to encourage their development was the aim of the research carried out by Dr Roberta Comunian and Dr Brian Hracs (University of Southampton) from 2016-2019.

They led the AHRC-funded research network “Understanding and Supporting Creative Economies in Africa: Education, Networks And Policy”, with support from Dr Lauren England.

They investigated co-working spaces, which are widespread in Nigeria, however, Tribe XX Lab is the first and only co-working and wellness space exclusively for women in Nigeria.

Tribe XX working space 1

The co-working and wellness space opened its doors on International Women’s Day in 2018, and has since received support from local, national and international organisations, including She Leads Africa.

Tribe XX Lab and its community are active in supporting women’s rights and activism in Nigeria and across Africa. We believe that empowering women means uplifting the economic health and wellbeing of a nation. Our mission is to help businesses created and led by women grow by solving their problems through training, capacity building, access to funding, office space and a rich network of professionals all committed to the total economic empowerment of women in Nigeria.– Emalohi L. Iruobe Esq, Co-founder of Tribe XX Lab

For female entrepreneurs in Nigeria, there is limited access to funding, a lack of mentors to provide guidance and stereotypes that block women from being accepted as experts and supervisors. Social norms continue to support male dominance in economic affairs which can discourage self-confidence in female entrepreneurs.

However, Dr Comunian, Dr Hracs and Dr England found that co-working spaces and collectives can act help support gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in developing economies. Tribe XX Lab’s Accelerator for women, that equips participants with funding, training and access to an investor network, can make a huge difference in boosting economic growth which lifts millions of people out of poverty in the process. The space has attracted female entrepreneurs across categories from hair care and lingerie to computer programming.

Tribe XX working space

In 2020 two publications co-edited by Dr Comunian, Dr Hracs and Dr England on Creative Economies in Africa will be published, bringing together findings from the network activities with the work of other scholars, policy makers and creative practitioners. To keep up to date with the network outputs and further research activities, please visit the project website blog.

In this story

Roberta Comunian

Roberta Comunian

Professor of Creative Economies

Lauren England

Lauren England

Lecturer in Culture, Media & Creative Industries Education

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