Hi, I'm John.

When I hear about the success stories of most entrepreneurs, I get the idea that it involves producing a big product due to talent, popularity or skills, especially in technology. I now know it to be a conscious and consistent effort to solve a problem but by not just designing a solution using skills or talent but also going through various design processes to know what to solve and how to solve that problem, not only that but also a constant cycle of reiterations, all to satisfy one individual, the end-user.

This new perspective was a result of my experience as an Innovate for Africa fellow so far. The 4 weeks intense Innovation Readiness Training is one part of the fellowship where the IFA team of vastly experienced educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators with the passion for providing powerful learning and training students to make a difference in their communities, facilitated a training aimed at imbibing values essential to the innovation ecosystem. These individuals from diverse backgrounds with our best interest in hearts facilitated sessions covering knowledge on personal branding, design thinking, strategic analysis and hard skills.

Personal Branding & Strategic Analysis

This involved various sessions where I learnt how to redesign my brand and communicate my skills properly in the digital space, by the end of this curriculum I had done a proper self-assessment and created an amazing resume and a portfolio of mine which I am very grateful for. I also learnt professional ways to communicate especially in a formal setting as well as other business ethics.

The strategic analysis course helped with researching and analysing information to better understand a client or organisation which could also be applied in interview preparations, this boosted my confidence for interviews as I got to really prepare well for them and this showed in the interviews I had after this training.

Design Thinking

The sessions we had on this curriculum was a bit overwhelming at first but after several exercises and discussions with team members, shoutout to Gbolahan Kolawole and Akinola Akintayo. I had a swell time doing this and we ended up with an amazing idea which I'm confident we could produce soon. We collaborated as a team and designed a product to address the education sector in Nigeria; EdSponsor.

Hard Skills Lab

I got to brush up on my python and data science skills and had the opportunity to work on a real-life project with Splitspot which was very delightful I must tell you. I was learning and applying myself in the data analysis track where I was proud of my growth and outcome which I can also attribute to the role played by my mentor, Will DeCesare.

Lest I forget, we had amazing people come to share experiences and knowledge to expose us better as they gave insights to the industry in Nigeria especially. We had Faith Adesemowo from Social Lender, Michael Olorunninwo from Y-labs, Efosa Ojomo, Chiedo John from GitHub, Vivian Nwaka founder of MEDSAF, not forgetting Fehintolu Olaogun from Credpal and these people impacted me in many ways from broadening my thinking, to sharpen my focus, with punchlines to go with it. One major lesson I learnt from these people is the grit and innovation does not stop at any time when you're building a unicorn. I must always learn and unlearn, innovate with the future in mind as new resistance will come up daily and I must be prepared to outlast it.

I'm really glad to be among the Ingenious Trailblazers and could not have asked for better peers. A special thank you to the IFA team for a major contribution to my growth this past month as I look forward to the next phase of the fellowship. In summary, my key takeaways from it all;

  • The hard skills I gained during this training has encouraged me to develop myself more to specialize as a data analyst.

  • I learnt and imbibed the concept of grit during the design thinking process as it was a whole new concept to me and the activities required to engage in it was a bit too engaging but I soon adapt and got to love it. I am proud of my growth so far, and the level of grit I showed still amazes me.

  • I got to co-found EdSponsor; a non-profit set to solve the illiteracy problem in Nigeria.

Partnering with a startup like yours will be an incredible learning experience for fellows like John, IN ADDITION to helping your startup accelerate with passionate African innovators. Sign in to our IFA Portal to see the range of talent that can join your startup today.

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