One thing I have experienced with entrepreneurship is that getting an idea might be the simplest aspect of it all as ideas stem from problems in our environment that are unlimited. The hardest part is transforming that idea into a meaningful commercial solution because I get cold feet about the entrepreneurial space in terms of converting my ideas to products or building a product that people would not find useful. However, after the Innovate for Africa’s (IFA) Innovation Readiness Training (IRT), I am confident about playing my role in the entrepreneurial space.
The IRT which began on the 4th of January was really power-packed with a regimented schedule. This schedule was structured to ensure the IFA fellows imbibe essential values ranging from grit, growth mindset, collaboration, inclusivity/diversity, to innovation. The training curriculum includes; design thinking, strategic thinking, personal branding and the hard skills lab. These modules were designed and facilitated by professionals from The Harvard School of Education and MIT Sloan School of Management.
Personal Branding & Strategic Thinking
In personal branding, I learnt professionalism and workplace ethics, the importance of branding and communication as an individual and for an organisation. I could reflect, understand and properly communicate my strengths in my resume and portfolio which has availed me insights into how I can improve on my journey to entrepreneurship.
The strategic analysis module was really very interesting as I harnessed critical thinking to research, analyse and profer strategies for any client or organisation. It does not stop there as having a strategy involves breaking down the objectives, key roles and results (OKRs) to help an organisation stay on the right path.
For the design thinking module, I learned how to build products that focused on the users through the iterative process of empathizing, ideating, defining, prototyping, and testing. Just like every module in the IFA training, this one also had a blended learning system where we could learn together and collaborate in teams to apply our knowledge in the form of a hackathon. With the help of my team members, I learnt and understood leadership, effective communication and collaboration. At the end of the training, we pitched our solution, JobEase and delivered working prototypes to judges to collate feedback, reflect and implement. Also, I learned to pitch to stakeholders and investors and also to create a business model that shows the desirability, feasibility and viability of the product.
Hard Skills Lab
In all honesty, the hard skills lab was hard probably because it comes at the end of the day when your energy is almost spent, with the module being self-paced. The hard skill lab provides you with an opportunity to work on skills needed to be successful in different tracks or careers. We had three career paths for this cohort: data analysis, digital marketing, and product management. For the hard skills lab, I was in the product management track where I applied while collaborating with my colleagues all I learnt while consulting for Innovate for Africa. It was a great experience for me as I gained valuable field experience through the help of my mentor, Christian Desrosiers.
During the course of the training, we had several entrepreneurs and innovators from different industries speak to us about their entrepreneurial journey. Despite the words of wisdom from these guest speakers, I connected greatly with Faith Adesemowo- a social impact entrepreneur who started Social Lender to make loans and credit available based on a person's social credibility- and Chiedo John, a senior engineering manager at Github who is currently on the board of Generate Impact, a benevolent company he founded to create digital solutions for human needs. One thing common to the guest speakers is their sincerity. Chiedo explained how he is interested in faith and family while he pursued his career goals.
I very much need to commend and appreciate the IFA team as I learned a lot about teamwork from them as their combined effort made the whole program go without a hitch. They also exhibit a high level of professionalism and respect for another. I also appreciate the fact that the team was forthcoming with feedback to ensure we get the best out of the training.
In summary, I can attest that the IFA innovation experience has taught me lifelong lessons and I hope aspiring innovators would grab this learning opportunity when the next cohort is announced.
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