Hi, I'm Karen.

As the world gradually moves on from the Covid-19 year, one of the best decisions I made to begin 2021 was applying to be part of the Innovate for Africa (IFA) community. Innovate For Africa is a program that inspires and trains aspiring African entrepreneurs and then provides them with the opportunity to work at a startup with continuous support. IFA aims to create the next generation of African innovators while supporting existing innovators, thereby strengthening the whole innovation ecosystem.

During the 4 weeks of the Innovation Readiness Training, I learned to demonstrate innovation, collaboration, grit, growth mindset, and inclusivity and diversity. These are some of the values that aid in building up a successful entrepreneur.

The IFA community is a group of diverse individuals with varying skillset and backgrounds supporting each other towards self-development. For the month of January, I had the opportunity to learn and work with like-minds on sessions relating to personal branding, design thinking, strategic analysis and hard skills. Looking through the curriculum, I could see that the training was going to be fast-paced which would test our ability to imbibe grit!

Design Thinking

Before I joined IFA, I knew a bit about design thinking but I did not know how practical it was for creating innovative solutions. Design thinking is a human-centred approach to creating innovative business solutions and can be divided into 5 stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. Collaborating on a 3-week long hackathon made me realize the importance of the entire process for innovators to create user-centric products. During the hackathon, I worked on a project where I applied the design thinking process to create a valuable solution called FarmSmart, a digital solution to improve agricultural practices in my country.

Personal Branding

The personal branding curriculum was a significant part of my training. For me, it was a process of self-discovery. I had to dig deep to find answers to questions relating to my abilities as an individual. I crafted my career objective and included the skills I can offer an organization. This session helped in refining my brand and improving my communication skill.

Hard Skill Lab

As a software developer, I have always wondered how to add more value to the products I build for end-users, this led me to select the product management track in the hard skills lab. I had the opportunity to apply my skills as a product manager on a real-life project for Duma. I conducted user interviews, set out a vision for the product, created the product roadmap and timeline and created prototypes. I also got to meet a wonderful mentor, Ajoke Salaudeen who readily guided me through my project and provided constructive feedback regarding my work.

The innovation readiness training really helped me improve in many areas. I am proud of my ability to collaborate and communicate effectively in a team especially with the hard skills lab. I appreciate the IFA team and look forward to applying myself to developing Innovation in Africa!

Partnering with a startup like yours will be an incredible learning experience for fellows like Karen, 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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