Updated: Apr 8
The majority of Nigerians are known to adapt to situations beyond their control. For me, having been a part of the Innovate for Africa Fellowship and listening to several industry practitioners provide experiences and words of wisdom on the concept of innovation, I have now developed a mindset that sees problems and challenges as opportunities.
So rather than complain or settle, I would ask, 'How can I create a system that would benefit the appropriate stakeholders?' 'How do I drive the adoption of this system?' Where would I start from?' Who are the key individuals or associations to approach? Who can I partner with? Which area could I focus on?'
This shift in mindset stems from the 1-month Innovation Readiness Training curriculum designed and facilitated by professionals from The Harvard School of Education and MIT Sloan School of Management. They ensured that while putting us through concepts on design thinking, personal branding, hard skills, and strategic analysis, we cultivated grit, creativity, innovation, a growth mindset, and made way for inclusivity and diversity.
The design thinking session had the IFA hackathon where we applied the principles to design thinking to build a solution that addresses a chosen sector eg. education and climate change. This session enlightened me to the importance of seizing opportunities (e.g. partnerships) that would likely bring success to an entrepreneur and provide solutions that would add value to people's lives and create an environment for more growth. At the end of the hackathon, my team came up with Agronnovator, a climate-smart solution for agriculture in Nigeria.
The personal branding and the strategic analysis sessions challenged my creativity as I learnt the importance of branding as an individual and as a company. Properly outlined values make it easier for external stakeholders to have meaningful information about a brand, and internal stakeholders understand the strengths and pain points of an organisation and strategically work towards ensuring it meets its goals.
For the hard skills lab, I was in the product management track where I learned and applied myself as a consultant for a health startup based in Tanzania in their product development stage. With the help from my teammates and mentor; Richi Kumari, we rounded up our hard skills lab and presented our final deliverables to our start-up client; Afya Pamoja.
One of my greatest takeaways has been imbibing the IFA mindset of Grit. I started the program wanting to do my best and when I realized I was not meeting up, I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated, and I wanted to give up, but with help from within and outside the fellow community, I persevered. I was able to turn the situation around by learning to manage my time and planning effectively. I was able to contribute to and lead my team and eventually produced final deliverables while learning. It was a real period of growth for me at innovate for Africa 2021. I learned new things, met and worked with new and diverse people and got my Product management game on!
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