I love volunteering and playing volleyball, but when I'm not doing this, I am working towards my goal of being exceptionally skilled at analysing data and being a frontend developer. As a young African graduate, I am surrounded by issues in my society that I hope to one day solve, this is how my love for innovation was born.
But I used to view entrepreneurship and innovation as owning a business or creating a new invention that can generate money. Being a part of IFA has changed my mindset and taught me how my skills can be applied to the innovation ecosystem around me. Having gone through the Innovation Readiness Training (IRT), I understand the need for entrepreneurship and innovation as it ensures that our society is continuously developing. The team at Innovate for Africa (IFA); a group of professionals and educators from Harvard and MIT, introduced us to different concepts during the IRT:
● Hard Skills Lab
● Design Thinking
● Strategic Analysis
● Personal Branding
For the hard skills lab; I was privileged to consult with a team on a real-time project for one of the IFA’s startup partners using my technical skills in data analytics.
We were to help analyze the Boston rental market and build a predictive model on apartment rentals in the Boston area based on customers’ preferences that will help our client; Splitspot, make better decisions on the future apartments to have listed on their website.
This process relied on self-paced learning and I was opportune to have a mentor; Anais Vaillant, who was readily available to answer all my questions, guide and motivate me all through. At the end of the training, we were able to come up with a predictive model and made a presentation of our findings to our client.
For design thinking, my team created a solution that looks into the mental health problem in Nigeria, a neglected health sector in the country. This provided a better understanding of the design thinking process. You can learn more about this solution, WeCare.
Learning about organisations in the strategic analysis session made me research look into the key factors that make an organization operate and succeed in their environment. This is essential to make strategic decisions and plan the development of the organization. Personal branding taught me the importance of building a brand; for myself or a company. Taking steps to put oneself and skills out there and grow my online presence.
Finally, I got to hear the experience from amazing guest speakers who talked about their life experiences in the industry, their struggles, success stories, and everything in between. It was truly educating on being exposed to such knowledge of experiences from various fields.
At the end of the training, I had come to realize what entrepreneurship and innovation truly entails. It isn’t just about starting a business and profiting from it but more on having a mindset of proffering a creative solution to a problem with the help of design thinking.
The first four weeks of my fellowship with Innovate for Africa have been insightful for me. I have improved on my collaboration, creativity and critical thinking and worked on imbibing the core values of IFA; like Growth Mindset, Inclusivity & Diversity, and Grit. Moving forward, I intend to implement these skills wherever and whatever situation I find myself in.
Partnering with a startup like yours will be an incredible learning experience for fellows like Aisha, IN ADDITION to helping your startup accelerate with passionate African innovators.
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