I enjoy being able to write code that makes things work. I've always had this partial idea that as a programmer all I'm required to do is to build websites that work and write clean code but that mindset has changed with Innovate for Africa as I find myself wanting to do more and actually creating impact! I had to understand that in everything you do, it is important to add meaningful value and this does not mean starting up a business and making a lot of money. As an innovator, you have to know how, when, where, and why you ask the right questions as there are numerous factors to always consider.
My first 4 weeks in the IFA fellowship was filled with a lot of challenges in form of opportunities. A lot of new concepts to learn in the Innovation Readiness Training; personal branding, strategic analysis, design thinking, and developing a skill in the hard skills lab.
During the design thinking sessions, I learnt that building the application comes last. When it comes to product, the user comes first so a lot of research has to be done first. You have to discuss and empathize with your users, ask them what they really want, create a problem statement. Ask more questions, critically process the data you receive as feedback, reiterate. Design a prototype, ask questions, modify, reiterate, and on and on until you discover what works best for your users. This training has opened my eyes to a world of numerous possibilities. The result of learning and applying this knowledge was Nimra Health created by my team, a data management solution for the health industry. While working on Nimra health, my teammates, Ugonna suggested we add a voice note-taking feature for the doctors, Feyi suggested we make it work for hospital clusters. That way those hospitals can have one accurate source of patients information, Emmanuel also added that we can use HMOs to arrange the hospitals. That way a patient can go to a hospital supported by his/her HMO and they won't need to start reregistering. I suggested we add an in-hospital communication feature where all the departments can communicate freely without leaving the platform. We implemented all these features and more to create a well thought out Health Care system that works for the Nigerian healthcare providers. This made me see how working alone can limit creativity as I realized that one person can have a biased opinion when making decisions.
I learnt about product management in the hard skills lab, I learnt what it feels like to deal with people from different backgrounds, to listen to everyone's opinion and really thinking about it, I learnt about the design thinking processes and how to apply them to everyday life, most importantly, I learnt that I know very little about what customers really want. To apply my new skill, I collaborated and consulted for Innovate for Africa successfully with the help of my mentor; Ajoke Salaudeen
My branding and analysis experience; like others, involved me collaborating with different individuals as I had the opportunity of working with three different teams. In my personal branding learning team, we collaborated on working on our brands, looking at each other's profile and details and render necessary feedback if we had communicated our skills clearly. In my strategic analysis team, we critically analyzed organizations using SWOT analysis, STEEPLE analysis or PESTLE analysis to help give an insight into the structures of an organization to see if it is in the best position to achieve its goals or not.
Generally, the training was fun, interesting and informative. Every day came with a new opportunity to grow as we always had new tasks to complete. We had the opportunity of discussing with some startup founders and innovators in Nigeria and beyond. Listening to their stories, asking a few questions and getting a reply from them. For example, we had the opportunity to discuss with John Chiedo, a Senior Engineering Manager at GitHub during our guest speaker sessions. It was an interesting and informative session. He told his story, gave us some advice. But one thing stood out for me - His dedication to his church, charity and family. Their stories inspired me never to give up and to always believe in myself. We also learnt to apply the core IFA values every day.
Finally, I can say that my biggest take away from the entire experience has to be the importance of collaboration, inclusivity and diversity in a team. I wish more startups understood the importance of breaking their staff into teams, how to choose the right teams who share the same passion and how they can harness the team system to grow their companies faster. I can't wait to apply what I learnt in a real startup while I also use the opportunity to learn more.
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