Creative Entrepreneurship Academy 2023

From October 30 to November 1, 2023, a Creative Entrepreneurship Academy on the preservation and digitalization of cultural heritage took place in Windhoek, Namibia in collaboration with Estonian and Namibia organizations. The academy consisted of a high-level conference aimed at local policymakers, heritage custodians, and developers, and a hackathon for young entrepreneurs to support sustainable development through the promotion of cultural heritage-based creative entrepreneurship.

Conference and hackathon in Windhoek

The conference “Heritage & Innovation: Finding Business Opportunities in our Cultural Roots” took place on 30 October 2023. At the conference Estonian experts, including Ragnar Siil from Creativity LabJuko-Mart Kõlar and Ave Matsin from the Viljandi Culture Academy, inspirational speaker Harald Lepisk (, and moderator and business trainer Toomas Roolaid, shared their creativity and knowledge on cultural heritage, digitalization, creative economy, and entrepreneurship. Local insights into the cultural landscape were provided by Gerard Vries, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Manfred !Gaeb, Deputy Director of the Creative Economy Division of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, and Boyson Ngondo, Executive Director of National Heritage and Culture Programs. Joel K Haikali, whose film “Invisibles Kaunapawa” was nominated for an Oscar in 2021, delivered a fascinating presentation on entrepreneurship in the film industry.

Creative Entrepreneurship Academy 2023 conference participants in Windhoek

The youth hackathon “Hack the Heritage” took place on 31 October-1 November 2023. During the two-day event young participants learned about product development, entrepreneurship, circular economy, and digital technologies. A total of 7 business ideas were developed, and after pitching, 3 teams were selected to continue working with the mentors in online individual follow-up mentorship sessions. The three winning ideas were: an app that helps to introduce and preserve heritage stories, using augmented reality; growing of local medicinal plants using hydroponic and water-saving technology; producing weather-alleviating garments wiht a design inspired by traditional patterns.

Creative Entrepreneurship Academy 2023 hackathon participants in Windhoek

Project background

The project of developing digital skills and entrepreneurship based on cultural heritage among the youth in Namibia was carried out in collaboration of NGO Creative Estonia (the lead partner), Viljandi Culture Academy, Estonian and Namibia National Commissions for UNESCO and UNESCO Windhoek office.

The aim of the project was to raise awareness on heritage-based creative entrepreneurship, while applying digital technologies and engaging young people. Using intangible cultural heritage as an input in entrepreneurship guarantees a distinctive nature of the business and increases competitiveness. The young people who participated in the project improved their entrepreneurship competences, that are beneficial for everyday life and form good basis for starting with entrepreneurship. The project was funded by the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV).